LONDON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Another 16,170 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,659,256, according to official figures released Wednesday.
The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 648 to 59,699, the data showed.
The figures came as a new tier system of coronavirus restrictions replaced the month-long national lockdown in England which ended Wednesday.
Under the new system, shops will be allowed to re-open across England, giving a Christmas bonanza to the struggling retail sector, but all bars and restaurants in the toughest Tier 3 areas will remain closed.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said as billions of pounds were lost in sales during the lockdown, businesses were looking forward to welcoming back customers.
"Every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported," Dickinson told the BBC.
Putting about 98 percent of England into Tier 2 and 3 restrictions, the new tier system was backed Tuesday by 291 votes to 78 in the House of Commons (lower house of the British Parliament).
Under Tier 1, people in the areas will be urged to work from home wherever possible.
In Tier 2 areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals along with alcoholic drinks.
In Tier 3 areas, all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through. Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.