Leeds could be put into Tier 3 Very High local lockdown as Covid infection rate keeps going up

Council leaders in Leeds have said that the city is on a Government "watchlist" and could be placed under the highest coronavirus alert level as they enter further negotiations.

Leeds has been placed into Tier 2 of the new local lockdown system, which is High, but the government apparently wants more areas to follow Liverpool into Tier 3 - the Very High category.

Councillors in Leeds said discussions with the Government are continuing and they will be looking for an extra package of support for businesses in the city.

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During a media briefing on Tuesday, Leeds City Council leaders said the current rate is 422 cases per 100,000 people, with cases rising across the city and the number of positive cases in hospitals doubling in the last week.

Leeds could be pushed into Tier 3 local lockdown restrictions as infection rates soar

Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: "This is a really pivotal moment for us again and there is a prospect that we could go into Tier 3.

"What we've got to do is make sure we are doing everything that we can, collectively and individually, to make sure that we are getting on top of the virus, and we also expect, from what the Government has said, that we will have very much an equal conversation with them about what needs to happen and when.

"At the moment, the judgment has been that we should go into Tier 2, and we support that, but the data changes every day and we need to just look at the epidemiology as well and see where the virus is spreading in settings and whether the extra restrictions in Tier 3 are justified and also the economic impact of this, which is another factor we are very concerned about.

"We know that not just hospitality but retail businesses are really struggling, freelancers, the cultural and creative sector, people who haven't had any support yet through this period and have been massively worried and continue to be, so we'd like to talk to the Government about a package of support that can really help get us through this next phase because we know there are some fantastic businesses that have been around for many years who are the lifeblood of Leeds, who are at risk, and we need to get this right for them, as well as balancing all the public health elements as well."

Judith Blake, leader of the council, added: "At the moment, we're still in discussions with the Government and we need to fully understand the regulations and what it is they are offering us in terms of support.

"All of the areas that were in discussions with Number 10 since the announcement last week have been told, with the exception of Liverpool City Region, that we are going into Tier 2, but we are on what they would describe as a watchlist and we will have further discussions this week.

"I think the preference from Number 10 would be for more areas to go into Tier 3 but we need to have a much better understanding of the full implications of moving into Tier 3, what impact that will have on the wider economy and, most importantly, how much will going into Tier 3 help us to get the numbers down and to stop the spread of the infection."

What is the difference between Tier 2 and Tier 3?

In Tier 2, the rules ban household mixing anywhere indoors including in pubs and restaurants, but mixing is allowed in gardens and outdoors as long as the Rule of 6 is followed.

The High Alert Tier 2 rules in Leeds are:

- No household mixing indoors - that means homes AND pubs and restaurants. Any indoor setting.

- Mixing in gardens IS allowed as long as the rule of six is followed. This actually means that restrictions are slightly less strict than before for gardens.

- Curfew in bars and pubs remains at 10pm

- Pubs, bars and restaurants to stay open

- Social distancing must be obeyed at all times

- The Rule of Six remains so that groups of people must not exceed six people in pubs, bars, restaurants and gardens

There are some exceptions to the ban on household mixing - these are listed here.

What is Tier 3? Very High Alert Level:

Tier 3 restrictions mean that pubs, bars, gyms, casinos and adult gaming centres must be immediately shut - on top of all the Tier 2 rules remaining in place.

The exception is that restaurants, and pubs serving 'predominantly food' can remain open.

The latest figures show Leeds has an infection rate of around 422, whereas Liverpool is only a little higher at around 500. So Leeds could follow suit and be placed into Tier 3.

Local lockdown restrictions must be agreed between government and local council leaders before being announced and applied.