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About 8 mln Britons face tighter lockdown rules as UK reaches 'critical time' in virus fight

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-09-13 08:39
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People wearing protective face masks pass a social distancing sign at Waterloo station, the busiest train station in the UK, during the morning rush hour, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, Sept 7, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Almost 8 million Britons will be subjected to tighter lockdown restrictions next week after fresh measures were imposed in the West Midlands and Scotland, local media reported Saturday.

From Tuesday, households in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull will be banned from mixing after the region reported a surge in coronavirus cases, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.

Further north, Lanarkshire joins areas around Glasgow subject to tougher controls, with the new rules in force as of midnight on Friday.

Previously, nine new local authorities were added to Public Health England's watchlist, meaning they, too, could soon see new restrictions imposed. They are: Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Hertsmere, Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Sheffield and St Helens.

Some 5.8 million people in England (one in 10) will be forced to follow tougher rules than the rest of the country, when the new measures take effect in the West Midlands, according to analysis by Sky News.

Designated areas in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Greater Manchester where restrictions are already in place remain as areas of national intervention, the British Department of Health confirmed.

The British government imposes the new restrictions at a time when countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are engaged in a race against time to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

A study by Imperial College London found that coronavirus cases in England were doubling every seven to eight days at the beginning of September.

The findings of the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission study suggest the virus is now spread more widely in the community.

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