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Johnson confirms three-tier lockdown system

Published:  12 October, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the introduction of a three-tier lockdown system that sets out different rules for regions classified as being on ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ alert. 

Tier 1 will see current social distancing measures, the ‘rule of six’ and a pub curfew of 10pm enforced, with areas in tier 2 to have the same restrictions plus a ban on households mixing. 

Under the 'very high' tier 3, wet-led pubs and bars will be shut in addition to tier 1 and 2 rules. 

Regulations for all three 'Covid local alert levels' are being laid out today and will be voted and debated on tomorrow before coming into force this Wednesday, said Johnson, with the government to “keep these measures under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause”, he added.  

“Just as we simplified our national rules with the rule of six, we will now simplify and standardise our local rules by introducing a three-tiered system, a local Covid alert levels system in England, centred around medium, high and very high. 

“The medium alert level will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national metrics, including the rule of six, and the closure of hospitality at 10pm. 

“The high alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between different households, or support bubbles indoors. In these areas, the rule of six 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. The very high alert level will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly, and where the NHS is consumed beyond unbearable pressure without further restrictions. In these areas, the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors, and in private gardens and I'm sorry to say, closing pubs and bars,” he said.  

The aim was to “create the maximum possible local consensus behind this more severe local action”, he added.

“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 and personal care sectors,” he said. 

The PM also took the opportunity to highlight the government‘s economic support to assist those affected by these decisions, as announced by the Chancellor on Friday.  

In addition, he said the government would provide local authorities across England with “around a billion pounds of new financial support on top of our £3.6bn fund”.  

And for “very high areas”, further financial support for local test and trace and local enforcement would be made available, said Johnson.  

Falling under the highest tier (3), bars and pubs in the Liverpool City Region, which includes the local authority districts of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral as well as Liverpool, have been ordered to close from this Wednesday.

The latest set of restrictions follows Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing last week that on-trade businesses across Scotland’s central belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, had to shut down for 16 days with effect from last Friday.   

The PM is poised to address the public at a Downing Street news conference at 7pm tonight, where he is expected to be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty.