UK Prime Minister announced the new coronavirus lockdown system for England on Monday, putting different regions of the country under separate levels of restrictions depending on outbreak severity.
The three-tier or "traffic light" policy will be based on rates of infections in certain areas.
- Tier 1: The medium level will apply to the majority of England and be based on current rules - no gatherings above 6 and 10 pm closing time for pubs.
- Tier 2: The high alert level will include those currently under restrictions. The Prime Minister said people in these areas will not be able to mix with other households indoors. These regions include Nottinghamshire, east and west Cheshire, as well as a small area of High Peak.
- Tier 3: The very high alert level will include the strictest measures for the places worst hit by the virus. Household mixing will be banned entirely and all pubs and bars will be forced to shut.
Johnson said that the government has agreed to place the Liverpool city region immediately into tier 3. Gyms, leisure centre, betting shops, and casinos will also be closed.
"We want to create the maximum possible local consensus behind this more severe local action, so in each area, we will work with local government leaders on the additional measures which should be taken. This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors. But retail, schools and universities will remain open", he said.
The Prime Minister said the other areas falling under Tier 3 restrictions remains a possibility and that not acting would be "unforgivable".
The measures will come into force Wednesday after being debated and voted on tomorrow.
'Unprecedented' Support Scheme Expansion
The prime minister also pledged a further £1bn in financial support for local test and trace and local enforcement, as well as expanding the existing wage and business safety net.
Citing Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the government will "expand its unprecedented economic support to assist those affected by these decisions" as well as extending the job support scheme "to cover two-thirds of the wages of those in any business that is required to close, and providing those businesses with a cash grant of up to £3,000 a month, instead of £1,500 every three weeks".
The deployment of the armed forces to support local services will also be an option if requested by local authorities.
"For very high areas, we will give further financial support for local test and trace and local enforcement - and assistance from the armed forces, not for enforcement but rather to support local services if desired in the local area", he said.
The Prime Minister also announced the measure by clarifying that the 'R' rate of infection was currently between 1.2 and 1.5 while its natural level is between 2.7 and 3, meaning the virus has effectively been suppressed.
However, he said that the rules must go further as more people are in hospital than when the UK first introduced a full lockdown on 23 March and deaths are rising.
He also claimed that permitting the virus to move through the younger population was not an option either due to the velocity of the virus, which would see older people hit too.
The Prime Minister said that the “bleak mathematics” of that allowing the disease to spread through the country unrestricted would cast many deaths, as well as an overwhelmed NHS.
Sir Keir Starmer says he is "deeply sceptical" that the new measures will be effective and is not convinced that the PM has a strategy to deal properly deal with the pandemic.
The Labour leader said that public confidence in the government has been eroded and asked why he thinks the new rules would get the virus under control.
He also asked if local authorities would have control over the test and trace system and if the prime minister would support local businesses due to being forced to shut.
To get control of the virus, the Government needs to fix test, track and trace. pic.twitter.com/Af91ZOYFbP— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) October 8, 2020
Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the Commons health committee, claimed that evidence from China indicates that early local interventions are the most effective.
The announcement follows a similar policy set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to be introduced in Scotland in alignment with the UK.
As of Monday, the UK recorded 13,972 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. A higher rate from yesterday (12,872) and the same time last week (12,594), but remains low than some days last week.
50 further deaths have also been recorded, a decline of 15 from Sunday figures.