LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - More than 20 million people across large swathes of England will be forced to live under the toughest category of COVID-19 restrictions when a national lockdown ends on December 2, while London was placed in the "high alert" second-toughest tier.
"Hope is on the horizon but we still have further to go so we must all dig deep, the end is in sight, we mustn't give up now", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament.
Earlier, it emerged that 99% of the population in England will be living under the toughest two tiers when a new system of restrictions is introduced next week.
A majority of areas previously in the highest tier, including London and Liverpool city region, are listed in Tier Two.More news: Public alerting system test to take place Wednesday
Large swathes of the country including the northern city of Manchester and the prosperous southeast county of Kent were placed into the tier 3, the highest tier, which is for areas with a very high or very rapidly rising level of infections.
Norfolk Police chief constable Simon Bailey said: "As we head into another phase of battling this pandemic, the new Tier restrictions aren't quite as severe as the lockdown we have just come out of, but the reasons they are still with us are exactly the same - to prevent the spread of infection and saves lives". Johnson faces opposition from some of his own Conservative Party lawmakers, who say the economic damage from the measures outweighs the public health gains.
Pubs will only be able to open and serve alcohol if customers are also having a meal.
The new measures will be reviewed December 16 and lifted for five days over Christmas across the whole U.K. During the festive period travel restrictions will be paused and up to three households will be able to form a "Christmas bubble" for socializing.More news: Redesigned Apple Watch and MacBooks rumored for late 2021
Britain has had Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 56,000 confirmed deaths.
Three coronavirus vaccines, developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, have shown promising results in clinical trials but have yet to be approved by Britain's medicines regulator. There is also restrictions in meeting people in a group of up to six people.
England's post-lockdown restrictions will be temporarily eased over Christmas.More news: Johnny Depps permission to appeal libel ruling rejected by UK judge