A new three-tier lockdown system in England, designed to make local coronavirus restrictions more easy to understand in different regions, has been announced by the prime minister.
Despite Covid-19 levels rising across the UK, Boris Johnson said he does “not believe a full national lockdown would be the right course”, as he explained the new tier system.
Some parts of England, such as the Liverpool City Region from Wednesday, will enter the ‘very high’ alert level, which will see hospitality venues ordered to close – among other restrictions.
The PM will address Parliament at 15:30 BST, setting out different rules for regions classified as being on “medium”, “high” or “very high” alert.
The Liverpool City Region – home to 1.5 million – is expected to face the tightest restrictions with pubs and gyms closed, and further rules on households mixing indoors.
Newcastle council’s leader has said the North East could avoid tighter rules.
Mr Johnson will address MPs before holding a Downing Street news conference. Other areas awaiting news of further restrictions include Greater Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds.
Liverpool recorded 600 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending 6 October. The average for England was 74.
The Liverpool City Region includes the local authority districts of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, as well as Liverpool.
Local MPs were told during a call with Health Secretary Matt Hancock all bars, pubs, gyms and betting shops will be closed while restaurants will remain open for the moment.
Legal restrictions will also be placed on indoor household mixing and there will be guidance on travel restrictions.
The new curbs are to be reviewed after a month.
Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee “to determine the final interventions” on Wednesday morning.
Boris Johnson public news briefing with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Professor Chris Whitty
Criticisms of the tier system
Sir Keir Starmer said he is “sceptical” whether the Government has a plan to get control of the virus.
He added that it increasingly feels as if Mr Johnson is “several steps behind the curve”.
The Labour leader said: “I have to say to the Prime Minister, I am now deeply sceptical that the Government has actually got a plan to get control of this virus, to protect jobs or retain public trust.”
He added: “So can the Prime Minister tell us, what reassurance can he give us that these measures today will be sufficient to get the virus under control? “
Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram agreed with the government that his area would go into a strict lockdown but said his calls for more support for workers had been ignored.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said experts told Cobra even tier three restrictions would be unlikely to bring the UK’s R number – the rate at which an infected person passes on the virus – below 1.
The PM will announce changes in Parliament, before speaking at a Downing Street news conference at 19:00.
He is expected to be joined at No 10 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty.