A NEW tiered lockdown system has been announced for England taking effect from Wednesday, October 14.
The three new levels of restrictions classify regions across the country as being on ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ alert.
Areas listed as ‘medium’ will be subject to the same rules as those which currently apply across the country, such as the rule of six and the 10pm hospitality curfew.
The ‘high’ alert level, which will apply to most of the areas already subject to restrictions, bans household mixing indoors, but the rule of six applies to outdoor meetings.
Under the ‘very high’ level, social mixing is banned and gyms, casinos and pubs are among the businesses that will be forced to close - although retail, schools and universities will remain open.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired a meeting of the emergency COBR committee this morning, announced the changes in the Commons this afternoon, and will give a Downing Street press conference this evening.
He revealed that the Liverpool City region would now be placed in the ‘very high’ alert category, meaning all bars, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, casinos and betting shops will be forced to close across the city.
All other regions across England that were under additional lockdown restrictions at the time of Mr Johnson’s announcement, including Nottinghamshire and east and west Cheshire, now find themselves under the ‘high’ alert restrictions, the Prime Minister confirmed.
Explaining the reasoning behind the new restrictions, he said: “We don’t want to go back to another national lockdown, we don’t want to let the virus rip, and so, since June, we have followed a balanced approach, controlling the virus by changing our behaviour, so as to stop its spread.
“I take no pleasure whatsoever in imposing restrictions on these businesses, nor do I want to stop people enjoying themselves, but we must act to save lives,” he added.
“And the evidence shows that in changing our behaviour, we are saving lives.”
The move comes as cases of Covid-19 soar across the country – with the UK recording 12,872 more coronavirus cases and 65 deaths on Sunday, October 11.
Reminding MPs that “there are now more people in hospital with Covid-19 in England than there were when we went into lockdown on March 23”, Mr Johnson confirmed that the government would provide extra funding and support to local authorities while under increased restrictions.
“This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the narrow path we have to tread between the social and economic trauma of a full lockdown and the massive human, and indeed, economic cost of an uncontained epidemic” he added.
“Not to act would be unforgivable.”
Regarding the new approach and the need for local authorities to work with the government to enforce these new lockdown restrictions, he called for “local and regional and national governments coming together in a shared responsibility and a shared effort to deliver better testing and tracing, better enforcement of the rules and ever improving therapies”.
He added: “With all these lessons we have learnt in the last few months, we are becoming better and better at fighting this virus.
“I have no doubt that together we will succeed.”
Labour party leader Kier Starmer was quick to criticise the Government’s new approach, stating: “I am now deeply sceptical that the Prime Minister has a plan to gain control of this virus.
“It appears that the Prime Minister is several steps behind the curve and is running to catch up with a virus that he lost control of a long time ago.”
A postcode checker will be launched on the Government’s website this week to advise people what guidance applies to their area.
For full information on the new restrictions and how they apply in your area click here.