The British health minister announced Thursday that three additional areas of the country will see tightened COVID-19 restrictions after a reported surge of new cases.
Health Minister Matt Hancock told members of Parliament that Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough have reported infection rates of more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 people, with the number of cases doubling every two weeks.
Hancock said officials are particularly concerned about an increase of cases among residents 60 and older.
The health minister also said people in those three areas are temporarily barred from indoor meetings with other households and that outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than six people. Hancock also asked that people under high alert limit the number of times they travel whenever possible.
Hancock said the government was beginning discussions with officials in the town of Warrington about moving them into the "very high alert level, as COVID-19 cases there are continuing to rise."
Warrington would join the northern British cities of Liverpool and Manchester in the "very high" category, which requires closure of bars, pubs and restaurants.
Hancock also said Britain has begun rolling out rapid, lateral-flow COVID-19 tests to schools and universities, which provide results within minutes. He said much more of life could become closer to normal if a regular mass-testing system were established, especially for students.
"If we can deliver a mass-testing solution so pupils in a bubble don't have to isolate for a fortnight when one in the bubble tests positive, we will not only help control the spread of the virus, we will protect education better and help schools, teachers and parents to live their lives much closer to normal," Hancock said.
The British government, he said, has purchased "many millions" of the tests.