On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce the details of a new three-tier lockdown system to tackle COVID-19. The system will categorise the localised lockdowns across England into medium, high or very high based on their coronavirus transmission rate.
The very high alert level will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly, with social mixing banned indoors and outdoors and a forced closure of pubs and other hospitality businesses.
Johnson said the new categories are intended to “simplify and standardise” all the different lockdown rules already in place.
The new rules are to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday before coming into force from Wednesday, with a review of the system in a month’s time.
Johnson told members of Parliament: “This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the narrow path we have to tread between the social and economic trauma of a full lockdown and the massive human and indeed economic cost of an uncontained epidemic.”
He said: “I must warn the House the weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country. I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.”
The medium alert level or Tier 1 is the lowest alert level, which will cover most of the country and involve the current national lockdown measures of the rule of six on gatherings and hospitality sector shutdowns at 10pm.
Tier 2, or the high alert level, will involve restrictions already in place in some local areas with stricter bans on indoor mixing but outdoor mixing allowed within the rule of six numbers.
The very high alert level, or Tier 3, will apply where the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) could soon be under unbearable pressure without further restrictions, with Merseyside including the city of Liverpool falling into this highest grade.
Johnson confirmed that most areas already subject to local restrictions – on top of the national rules – will automatically move into the high alert category or Tier 2.