After weeks of speculation over the government’s new Covid restrictions grading system, the Prime Minister today announced the details. Addressing MPs in the Commons chamber, Boris Johnson confirmed that his strategy was entering a new phase with a three-tier system. Rather than a traffic light system with a green for go, the regional categories are medium, high and very high.
Setting out the measures, Johnson attempted to say that he was striking a middle ground. He pointed to data suggesting the number of cases had quadrupled over the last three weeks as evidence that new steps were needed. However, he made a point of ruling out a national lockdown, at least for the time being, arguing that it would deprive children of their education and significantly damage the economy.
However, the new measures are still restrictive. They come into force on Wednesday with a list expected later today on which level areas fall into which restrictions. When it comes to the lowest level — medium — this is an extension of the current coronavirus rules across the country including the 10 m. hospitality curfew and the rule of six. High risk means a clampdown on households mixing indoors while allowing it to continue outside. Despite the initial aim of simplifying the rules, there is some confusion over the third tier — very high.
‘Very high’ could potentially mean different restrictions for different areas. The first area to enter this level — the Liverpool city region — will face closures of pubs, bars, betting shops, gyms, leisure centres and casinos. However, restaurants will still be able to operate, including pubs that serve food (with certain caveats).
Speaking in the chamber, Johnson urged regional mayors and MPs to work with the government. However, the fact that Tory MPs and a Tory mayor — in the form of West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street — are already on the attack does not bode well for the weeks and months ahead.
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