Prime Minister unveils three tier lockdown system

Prime Minister unveils three tier lockdown system

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unvieled a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England, which is set to be introduced on Wednesday. 

Under the new rules, the country will be divided into three alert levels - medium, high and very high - which woll be determiend by local infection rates.

The move, planned to come into force on Wednesday, is aimed at simplifying the varying COVID-19 measures that have been implemented across different parts of England.

From Wednesday, the whole of Nottinghamshire will fall into the second tier of the new restrictions. 

The Medium alert level will  apply to most of the country and will consist of the current national measures which came into force on 25 September.

The High” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between households or support bubbles indoors. The 'rule of six' will apply in outdoor spaces, including private gardens. Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into this tier.

The Very High alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation. This includes incidence and test positivity, including among older and more at-risk age groups, as well as the growth rate, hospital admissions and other factors.

In these areas, the Government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens, with the rule of six allowed in open public spaces like parks and beaches. Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant - which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.

People will be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.

Non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.

Responding to the announcement, East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles said: “The principle of a tiered lockdown system makes it much easier to understand than the haphazard approach we’ve had until this point, which has only served to cause confusion, but it needs to be applied sensibly.

“We know, for example, there have been large spikes of coronavirus cases in a number of university cities, which universities are working to contain. But in these circumstances, the cases are fairly concentrated in certain areas and there are many wards where cases remain relatively low.

“This means decisions on local lockdowns must be based on more than numbers and instead consider the wider context, such as the extent to which cases are contained within certain communities and the trajectory at which they are increasing or decreasing.

“An exit strategy has to be absolutely clear. Our region was home to the first city to go into local lockdown, when stricter measures were placed on Leicester at the end of June. These have yet to be lifted fully and there are many lessons we can take from the way restrictions have been handled here.

“Firstly, a robust communications plan is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page is critical. There have been occasions when people in Leicester have awaited an update to the situation but the Government has missed its own review timetable, meaning the city has often felt forgotten about.

“Also, we’ve seen the huge impact a local lockdown has had on Leicester businesses so the Government must be ready to respond with additional, tailored support in the form of grants if and when required in order to prevent companies that would otherwise be viable from collapsing due to enforced closure.

“While Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Friday provided some welcome relief to employers in the extension to the Job Support Scheme, it’s likely the £3,000 monthly grants that are being offered won’t be anywhere near enough to plug the gap needed for businesses to meet fixed costs.

“There has also been little consideration of the knock-on impact this will have on other businesses in the supply chain that aren’t necessarily forced to close but will be significantly affected by losing customers, as well as other associated industries that rely on the hospitality trade, including – but not limited to – transport providers.

“Alongside a better communication strategy for the general public so they are kept abreast of how decisions are made and reviewed, it’s crucial that Westminster doesn’t just take a sledgehammer to large swathes of the economy without proper consultation with local authorities. These are best placed to understand how their areas work and will have ideas on how to make subtle changes that don’t grind entire cities and regions to a halt.”

 

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