Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this afternoon officially laid out the UK government’s new three tier local lockdown restrictions system.
In an address to MPs live in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson has announced a new set of targeted restrictions – which have been the topic of widespread speculation over the past week or so and particularly today – for cities and towns in England in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Each tier under the newly-announced system has its own set of rules determined by an alert level: ‘medium’ (Tier 1) ‘high’ (Tier 2), or ‘very high’ (Tier 3).
Mr Johnson said that he does not want to go into a second full national lockdown – including closing schools and businesses and telling people to stay at home – as this would not be “the right course”. He did however say that letting the virus “rip” would lead to an “intolerable death toll” and the NHS would be under such a strain that medics wouldn’t be able to devote themselves to treating other ailments.
“We must act to save lives, and the evidence shows in changing our behaviour… our actions are saving lives.” he said.
It has been confirmed earlier this afternoon that Greater Manchester has been placed into ‘Tier 2’.
Speaking to BBC News ahead of the announcement, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said officials in the area were “glad that government has listened”.
“We had no evidence that hospitality was the primary course of spread in our city region,” he said.
“However, it’s important to say that any restrictions will choke off trade to our pubs, restaurants, even our shops. So, any restrictions must come with a full economic support package otherwise we are going to see a risk of redundancies and business failure running up to Christmas.”
He continued by stating that he feels that Tier 2 is “still a major restriction” for Greater Manchester.
Mr Johnson confirmed that the three tier system and the whole package of measures will also be voted on in parliament before coming into force.
Here’s how each of the three tiers work:
Areas that fall into Tier 1 – which Mr Johnson said “will cover most of the country” – will see residents living in these areas required to adhere to national restrictions.
This includes the “rule of six”, the 10pm curfew, and social distancing measures.
Tier 2 will cover areas where interventions are already in place – including in Greater Manchester – and will see all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors stopped.
The “rule of six” will apply outdoors, as well as in private gardens.
It has been confirmed that Nottinghamshire, Cheshire East and West, and High Peak will also move to the high alert level as part of Tier 2.
This is the highest alert level and will apply where transmission is rising rapidly and the NHS could be under “unbearable pressure”.
Tier 3 will see people banned from socialising with other households, both indoors and in private gardens, while bars and pubs will be closed, unless they can operate as restaurants. Residents will also be advised against travelling in and out of these areas, while it will be up local politicians as to whether other leisure venues such as gyms and casinos should also close.
However, non-essential shops, schools and universities will remain open.
It has been confirmed that the Liverpool City Region is the first to be placed in Tier 3 and this comes after numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks, with Knowsley recording 944 cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to 4th October (the highest in the country).
The restrictions for the Liverpool City Region will take effect from Wednesday.
A postcode checker will be launched on the government’s website to advise people what guidance applies to their area, and every local authority will be put in a Tier by the end of Monday.
In his final message to the country, Mr Johnson said: “The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country.”
But he adds: “I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.