On Monday Boris Johnson will announce a comprehensive new three-tiered coronavirus safety system for England.
Every area in the country will be sorted into one of three tiers under the plan, which could see pubs shut down, shielding resume and a ban on non-essential travel in the worst-affected regions.
Some of the key details of the new plan were reportedly still being worked out within Johnson’s Cabinet as late as Sunday afternoon, the Mirror reports.
Tory ministers are understood to be locked in a stand-off with local authorities who are demanding greater wage support before pubs and restaurants are closed down once more, plunging businesses into dire straits.
What will Boris Johnson announce?
The Prime Minister will give an update to Parliament after 3.30pm on the government’s fight against coronavirus.
He is expected to unveil a three-tier local lockdown system.
This has two purposes – to replace the confusing mish-mash of local rules, and to slap harder rules on parts of England where the virus is running rampant.
This will see every area in England placed into one of three tiers depending on how bad the virus is.
The new system will reportedly be called Local Covid Alert Levels – and they’re unlikely to resemble a traffic light.
Rather than having a green ‘low-risk’ option, the tiers are expected to be labelled ‘medium’, ‘high’, or ‘very high’.
Johnson is also expected to hand more control to councils over contact-tracing after the privatised NHS Test and Trace failed to tell thousands to isolate.
How will a three-tier lockdown work?
It will standardise the mish-mash system of local lockdowns in England so they’re easier to understand.
At the moment, more than 50 areas in England are under a confusing array of local lockdown rules.
For example, in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham it’s illegal to meet someone you don’t live with in a private home or garden.
But what about in the pub? In Liverpool that’s illegal; in Manchester, it’s against advice, and in Birmingham, it’s allowed, as long as you’re not in a group of more than six people.
Under the new system, you’ll just need to look up which tier you live in and check the rules from there.
However, there might still be some specific measures for local areas even on top of what’s being announced.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said areas will have the “flexibility” to go further or come up with particular measures beyond the three-tier system.
What happens in Tier 1?
Tier 1 is for the least-hit areas and is expected to reflect the current national rules for England. These include:
Rule of six: Social gatherings of more than six people outdoors or indoors are illegal.
10pm curfew: Pubs and restaurants can only operate with table service and must shut by 10pm.
Work from home if you can: People who can do their job from home are expected to do so.
Social distancing: Stay 2m apart from people not in your household or bubble, or 1m with mitigations.
What happens in Tier 2?
Tier 2 is for higher-risk areas, and is expected to reflect current local lockdown rules that already apply to more than 10million people in England. This could include:
Everything in Tier 1, plus:
Indoor gatherings banned: Social gatherings are not allowed indoors between anyone who doesn’t live together (other than bubbles and exemptions).
Public transport cut: People are only advised to use public transport for essential reasons.
What happens in Tier 3?
Tier 3 is for the highest-risk areas and is expected to go much further than the current local lockdown rules.
Details are still being thrashed out between ministers and councils, but leaks suggest it might include:
Everything in Tiers 1 and 2, plus:
Pubs and restaurants shut: Mayors expect pubs in these areas to be closed by law. There is speculation restaurants may be able to remain open until 10pm.
Hairdressers and leisure centres shut: Reports suggest the closure of beauty salons and sports centres is up for discussion, but it’s not decided.
Non-essential travel banned: People may be advised against travelling in, out or within the area unless for purposes like work or school.
No mixing outdoors: Reports suggest mixing between people who don’t live together could be banned in all settings, even outdoors.
Shielding resumes: Reports suggested the clinically vulnerable in these areas might be asked to shield again for the first time since August. No funding to help them do so has yet been confirmed.
But schools and workplaces stay open: Ministers have made clear schools will be the last thing to shut.