Lockdown Restrictions Have Been Increased In Birmingham As Coronavirus Infections Soar Across The UK
New lockdown restrictions have been announced for Birmingham
Birmingham is the latest city to face tough new lockdown measures following a resurgence in cases across the whole of the UK.
A ban on households mixing in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull has been announced after new figures found the city had the second highest rate of Covid-19 infections in England, behind Bolton.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said the new restrictions would come into force on Tuesday after socialising between households was identified as "one of the drivers of transmission".
Speaking on Friday, Mr Street said: "The areas will now be escalated to an area of national intervention, with a ban on people socialising with people outside their own household.
"This decision has been made in collaboration with local leaders who are considering additional local measures to tackle the increase in the number of cases."
He added: "So to emphasise, this is about mixing between households, it is not about prevention of schools, workplaces, transport, any of the other options - it is about household mixing."
The crackdown comes after new official figures found the R number - the average number of people that one infected person passes the disease to - had risen to between 1 and 1.2 across the UK.
Meanwhile, an Imperial College London population survey concluded positive cases were doubling every seven to eight days in England, demonstrating a major resurgence of the virus.
Steven Riley, a professor of infectious disease dynamics and co-author of the work, said: "The prevalence of the virus in the population is increasing. We found evidence that it has been accelerating at the end of August and beginning of September."
He added: "There is a difference in the starting level and there is a difference in the speed [in different areas]. But I think the overall trend of moving into growth does seem to be affecting a really large proportion of England."
On Friday, health secretary Matt Hancock also announced the government's contact tracing app would finally launch in England and Wales on 24 September.
The app, which has faced a series of setbacks and delays, will allow people to scan QR codes when they visit hospitality venues and alert them if they come into contact with an infected person.
The original version of the app developed by the NHS and trialled on the Isle of Wight in May was ditched after it failed to adequately detect other phones.
But Mr Hancock said the launch would be a "defining moment" in the efforts to tackle the outbreak.
"We need to use every tool at our disposal to control the spread of the virus including cutting-edge technology," he said.
"The launch of the app later this month across England and Wales is a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time."