Cardiff and Swansea will be subject to local lockdowns, the Welsh government has announced, while Leeds is likely to face new restrictions to fight Covid-19 and London was placed on the government’s “watchlist”.
From 6pm on Sunday, residents in the Welsh cities will not be able to travel in or out without reasonable excuse, or able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with. Some parts of Llanelli in south Wales will also be under a local lockdown from Saturday evening.
The new restrictions will affect about 800,000 people.
The announcement came as Leeds city council leader, Judith Blake, said she expected Leeds to be made an “area of intervention”, meaning “more household restrictions along the lines of those already in force across three of the West Yorkshire districts in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale”.
She told reporters: “We expect them to come in from midnight.”
No additional measures are being taken at this stage in London.
The addition of Leeds’s 793,000 population would take the number of people living under local restrictions to more than 16.2 million across the UK.
Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds city council, said: “What we are trying to do is give a simple message – you shouldn’t really mix with other households.”
He said about 780,000 people would come under the new measures, which could be in place throughout winter.
Riordan said: “I think we know from the experience of Leicester, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire that when these restrictions are brought in they do not tend to be lifted after a week or two.”
The city’s virus rate was 98.5 per 100,000 people with a positive testing rate of 8.4%, Leeds director of public health, Victoria Eaton, said. The spread was “very dynamic” with “high rates in some of our student areas”, but cases were rising in all age groups, she added.
London Councils, a cross-party organisation that represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, said the English capital was being placed on the national Covid-19 watchlist.
The list is divided between areas where intervention is required via local lockdown restrictions and areas of concern that are closely monitored.
London Councils said while no additional measures were being taken in the city, its entry on the list was a “stark reminder that now is the time for all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.
A statement said: “There are no additional measures at this stage but it is welcome that the city’s testing capacity is boosted so that Londoners have timely access to Covid-19 tests and the government must ensure that this is sustained from now on. If Londoners have Covid-19 symptoms they should apply for a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.
“London boroughs are working with their communities, business and the police to engage, educate, explain and, if necessary, enforce the new restrictions and regulations, and the government must ensure that it funds these so resources do not need to be drawn from other services.
“We ask all Londoners to work together and abide by the national restrictions announced on Tuesday.”
The announcement came as new data showed the estimated number of cases of coronavirus across England had jumped 60% in one week. There were about 9,600 new coronavirus infections a day in England, up on 6,000 the week before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey.
The survey, which tests thousands of people in English homes, whether they have symptoms or not, found an estimated 103,600 people had Covid-19 between 13 and 19 September, equating to about one in 500 people.
The ONS said: “The estimate shows the number of infections has increased. In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17-24 age group.
“There is evidence of higher infection rates in the north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, London and north-east.”
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweeted: “The government need to urgently increase testing availability in the capital – and Londoners must act with caution and follow public health guidelines.”
Earlier this week he met local council leaders from all parties and public health experts to agree a new London plan to slow the spread of the virus. On Sunday he said data showed London was just two or three days behind hotspots such as the north-east and Greater Manchester.
Kevin Fenton, the director of Public Health England in London, told the mayor and leaders of all 32 boroughs this week that all signs indicated the virus was making a resurgence in the city. He said: “We are seeing a rising tide of coronavirus cases in London across a broad range of ages. This is no longer limited to young people in their twenties.
“Whilst the number of cases by borough varies, the general trend across the city is one of steadily increasing transmission and if that continues then the situation may escalate.”
Infections across the city have more than doubled since August, with the seven-day weekly average number of cases rising from 86 per 100,000 to 262 per 100,000. The number of people in hospital with the virus is said to have tripled in a fortnight, though admissions are much lower than in March.
The boroughs of Redbridge, Hounslow and Barking & Dagenham have the highest infection rates, figures show.