Boris Johnson has confirmed that a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions is going to be introduced in England.
The PM said he did not want to “shutter our lives and our society” but the government needed to prevent the virus from ripping through the UK.
The country will be divided into three Local COVID Alert Levels – “medium”, “high” and “very high” – depending on local infection rates, he said. The PM explained that the move is aimed at simplifying the range of different COVID-19 restrictions that were already in place across various parts of England.
Speaking in the Commons today, Boris Johnson said that the medium level will cover a significant part of England and includes the current national restrictions such as the “rule of six” and the 10 pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants. The high level will see people prevented from socialising with other households indoors.
Liverpool will be placed under the highest level, while Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire will be put under the second tier. “The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the metal of this country. But I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.” said the PM.
Matt Hancock has today been briefing local leaders over the new restrictions – with Greater Manchester told to expect to be put on Tier 2 lockdown and Oldham to be brought into line with the regulations after being under enhanced lockdown.
Jim McMahon, Oldham West and Royton MP, said: “Calls with the Secretary of State confirms Greater Manchester will be placed in Tier 2. Household restrictions on meeting indoors in any setting, but not outdoors. Pubs serving food remain open. Oldham will be removed from its enhanced lockdown measures and brought into line with Greater Manchester at last.”
From Wednesday at 5 pm, locals will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as for work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day – although there are complaints the rules will only be guidance rather than legally enforced.
Restaurants will be allowed to open, but only until 10.30 pm. Where businesses are forced to shut, the Government will pay two-thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. There is expected to be a £28million package to help parts of the country classed as Tier Three. ‘Retail, schools and universities will remain open,’ Mr Johnson said.