Both regions of Sussex will have the highest level of coronavirus restrictions imposed from Boxing Day, following a surge in cases of a new more infectious variant of the disease.

Sussex will move into Tier 4 from a minute past midnight on Boxing Day, along with Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire. Parts of Essex and Surrey not already under Tier Four, as well as Hampshire with the exception of the New Forest, will also have the toughest restrictions introduced.

These regions will join London and other parts of the south and east of England that had the new tier introduced earlier this week.

Under the restrictions, non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will close, with the public advised to stay at home – with the exception of travelling for work (if you cannot work from home), education and childcare.

Households are prohibited from mixing, but one person can meet one other person from another household in a outdoors public place and exercise is unlimited. Support bubbles are exempt.

At a press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained that the old tier system was not sufficient to deal with the new variant of coronavirus.

The news comes as a second variant of coronavirus has been discovered in the UK, which is also believed to be more transmissible. Two cases have been detected, both contacts of people who had travelled from South Africa.

Hancock has advised anyone who has been in contact with someone who has travelled to South Africa in the last 14 days to quarantine immediately and restrictions on travel from the country have been introduced.