AT MIDNIGHT, several new areas of the UK were moved into tier two of the government's new coronavirus alert system and will face stricter lockdown restrictions as a result.

Several of these areas were in the South East of England, though all parts of Sussex remain at the lowest level of alert - tier one, "medium risk".

Previously, the most southerly area affected by "high risk" restrictions was Solihull.

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Which areas in the South East of England are now high risk?

The areas in the South East now in the government's second, "high risk", tier are London, Essex (apart from Southend and Thurrock) and Elmbridge in Surrey.

In Elmbridge, there were 129 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days between October 7 and October 13.

The average area in England had 95 cases per 100,000 people in that time.

Brighton and Hove had 81 cases per 100,000 people during this period.

However, there has been a rise in the number of coronavirus cases reported in Brighton and Hove in recent weeks.

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There were 240 confirmed cases in the city in the seven days leading up to October 12.

In the week leading up to October 7 there were 221 reported cases in Brighton and Hove.

During the previous week there were 115 confirmed cases in the city and the week before that there were 39.

Brighton and Hove's director of public health said that some, but not all, of the sudden increase could be put down to an increased availability of testing to Brighton and Hove residents - with new testing centres constructed at Plumpton Racecourse and East Brighton Park in recent weeks.

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At what point are areas moved into tier two, "high risk"?

The Evening Standard described the 100 weekly cases per 100,000 population mark as a "key threshold" in deciding which areas were placed into tier two.

Eight London boroughs had surpassed this threshold, the publication reported yesterday, ahead of the capital being placed into the "high risk" category at midnight.

The London borough with the highest weekly coronavirus rate was Ealing, where there were 138 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days leading up to October 13.

But no areas of Essex surpassed 100 weekly cases per 100,000 people.

The county (except for Southend and Thurrock) moved into tier two last night after Essex County Council requested tighter lockdown restrictions from the government.

The authority said the measures were necessary to reduce the rapidly increasing number of cases, prevent further deaths, and protect businesses from ‘very high’ (the third and highest tier of the government's new alert system) level restrictions being introduced".

A statement released by the council read: "The rates are the number of cases per 100,000 residents per week and, while they are low, the fact remains they are doubling everywhere across Essex.

"We believe that this trend will continue over the coming weeks and we will soon find ourselves in the same position as many northern towns."

The highest rate at the time of the statement was in Brentwood, where there had been 89 cases per 100,000 people in the week leading up to October 11.

In figures showing the number of new cases in the seven days leading up to October 13 (the most recent available) this figure had fallen to 70 per 100,000 population.

However, the figure for Basildon had climbed from 62 to 89.

Despite being below the "key threshold" of 100 weekly cases per 100,000 people, the area was still moved into tier two last night following the council's request.

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What new restrictions will apply to people in "high risk" tier two areas?

People in high risk areas will face tighter lockdown restrictions in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

They will still have to follow social distancing guidelines, the rule of six and the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues - the restrictions currently in place nationwide, including across "medium risk" areas such as Sussex.

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But they will also not be allowed to socialise with anybody from outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether this is at home or in a public place.

Groups of no more than six may socialise in outdoor areas such as gardens, beaches and parks.

However, exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors.