A new three-tier system of restrictions will be put in place across England, the Prime Minister confirmed in a statement earlier today.
Areas of the country will be placed into one of three tiers, ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ with correspondingly strict measures in place to reduce the transmission of the virus.
What did the Prime Minister say?
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson said that the government’s local approach so far has produced “different sets of rules in different parts of the country which are difficult to understand and to enforce”.
Mr Johnson reiterated the warning given earlier in the day by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam, who said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is now more than it was when lockdown was introduced in March.
He said that while the measures taken so far have allowed us to keep the R rate below what it would have been naturally, more needs to be done.
While the full details are yet to be confirmed, the Prime Minister confirmed that schools, colleges and the retail sector will not be shut down.
The Liverpool city region will be the first area to enter the highest tier, with pubs and bars forced to close as well as a ban on mixing between households indoors and outdoors.
Several areas in the north of England, including Yorkshire and Humber, the North East and North West are expected to be put in the second tier.
It is thought that most of these areas will be classified as ‘High’, so may not see pubs and other hospitality venues forced to close, but will likely see enforced restrictions on meeting up with other households.
When will the new system come into effect?
The new system will be debated and voted on tomorrow (Tuesday 13 October) to come into effect the following day.
The new measures will be reviewed regularly, said the Prime Minister, including a 4-week “sunset clause” meaning they will expire by default.
Today’s announcement saw the Prime Minister confirm that the new system will be put in place, with exact details of which areas will be under which restrictions yet to be confirmed with local leaders.
The Prime Minister’s announcement follows a COBRA meeting this morning, in which the final details of the plan are thought to have been ironed out.
While a package of support has been announced for businesses forced to close due to local restrictions, some have been critical of the plans, saying they do not go far enough.
Speaking to BBC news, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “I don’t think it’s fair to take away people’s place of work without leaving them with the funding that they will need to pay the bills and put food on the table.”
The tiered system was partially aimed at making the restrictions easier to understand, with one of three sets of measures being applied right across the country depending on the number of infections, rather than many different types of restrictions.
However, the restrictions might differ slightly between areas within the same tier, due to differences in transmission in each area.
What do Tier One restrictions mean?
The medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.
What do Tier Two restrictions mean?
The high alert level reflects interventions in many areas subject to local restrictions, preventing mixing between different households indoors.
Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into this category, as well as Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak.
This will mean the following rules will apply:
Social gatherings of more than six people outdoors or indoors are illegalPubs and restaurants can only operate with table service and must shut by 10pmMeeting groups of people of six or less is allowed outdoors - although meeting in outdoor public spaces (such as beer gardens) is advised againstGyms, sports centres, hairdressers and cinemas will still be allowed to operateWork from home if you can: People who can do their job from home are expected to do so.Social gatherings are not allowed indoors between anyone who doesn't live together (other than bubbles and exemptions)People are only advised to use public transport for essential reasons
What do Tier Three restrictions mean?
The very high alert level will mean, at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens.
Areas in the top tier will be able to impose extra restrictions, and in the Liverpool city region this will mean the closure of leisure centres, gyms, betting shops and casinos.