After numerous reports that the measure was being considered, Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (12 October) announced a three-tier lockdown system for England.
Areas of the country will be placed into one of three tiers, ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Very High’.
The Liverpool city region will see pubs and restaurants forced to close as well as a ban on mixing between households indoors and outdoors, as it enters the third tier, “Very High”.
How will it work?
Areas listed as ‘Very High’ will be under the strictest restrictions, with pubs, gyms, casinos and other hospitality venues forced to close, and a ban on mixing between households.
Those areas where local restrictions are currently in place will mostly be classed as 'High' and will see a ban on mixing between households.
The rest of the country will placed classified as tier one or 'Medium' by default, with no additional restrictions above the current rule of six and 10pm curfew.
Today’s announcement saw the Prime Minister confirm that the new system will be put in place, with exact details of which areas will be under which restrictions yet to be confirmed with local leaders.
It is expected that the restrictions might differ slightly between areas within the same tier, due to differences in transmission in each area.
Why is a tiered system being considered?
The idea comes after Boris Johnson was forced to clarify statements made on 29 September, in which he wrongly said that people in the North East could meet with other households in public.
The Prime Minister then issued a tweet saying, “Apologies, I misspoke yesterday,” before clarifying the rules, but his mistake has been seen as symbolic of the confusion that many feel about the varying levels of restrictions in different parts of the country.
Currently there are seven variations of local lockdown in place across different parts of England, as well as the ‘rule of six’ which is in effect nationally, and further local lockdowns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What about financial support?
There are reports that the tiered lockdown system could also have an economic dimension, which would make it easier for the government to get additional resources to those areas where lockdown rules are most restrictive.
This could offset the impact on businesses in the hospitality and events industry in particular, where major redundancies are expected in the coming months, as the furlough scheme is replaced by a new system which aims to support all “viable” jobs.