Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a new three-tier strategy for local lockdowns, which will inform the “appropriate interventions” needed in each area, and will see different parts of England placed in different categories dependent on rates of infection, with areas in the highest level expected to face the toughest restrictions.
Liverpool and London are among the areas which are facing tougher restrictions.
Pubs will be shut down in the worst-hit areas with Liverpool set to be forced into a Tier 3 today with restrictions, following talks at the weekend. The city regions affected include Houlton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and the Wirral. The Prime Minister said he had “been able to reach agreement with leaders in Merseyside”.
However, “food-based pubs” will be allowed to stay open but those that do not “substantially” serve food will have to close for at least a month.
The measure, which would permit all Wetherspoons and other gastropubs to stay open, is likely to increase confusion about a system that was designed to clear up months of contradictions around the government approach to local lockdowns.
By tonight, every area in the country is expected to be assigned Tier 1 (medium risk), Tier 2 (high) or Tier 3 (very high) due to spiraling rates of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister said the new plan would help to simplify the current rules, adding: “this is not how we want to live our lives but it is the narrow path we have to tread.”
In a statement to the House of Commons the Prime Minister said”we are introducing a 3 tiered system of local Covid alert levels in England, set at medium high and very high stop the medium alert level will cover most of the country all consist of the current national measures. This includes the rule of 6 and the closure of hospitality by 10 PM
“The high alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmissions by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubble indoors. In these areas the rule of 6 will continue to apply outdoors where it is harder for the virus to spread in public spaces as well as private gardens most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has today been briefing local leaders over the new tier restrictions, with Greater Manchester told to expect to be put on Tier 2 lockdown with Oldham to be brought into line with the regulations after being under enhanced lockdown.
Sector leaders are preparing to mount a legal challenge to the government’s lock-down restrictions, which they say have decimated the hospitality industry.
Lawyers for the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), the British Beer and Pub Association and north west brewers and retailers JW Lees and Joseph Holt, alongside another ten organisations, are to challenge the latest round of coronavirus restrictions affecting the hospitality industry.
Sector leaders argue the restrictions, which have already had a significant impact on the hospitality industry, are not based on any “tangible scientific evidence” that closing venues suppresses transmission of coronavirus.