Boris Johnson hasn’t ruled out another national shutdown – although with the increasing number of lightning lockdowns across many regions, much of the country is already living with enforced changes.
While all of England is now having to adhere to the “rule of six” – which limits gatherings to half a dozen people – some entire regions are living with or soon face harsher rules.
Tighter restrictions will come into force in Lancashire, Merseyside, parts of the Midlands and West Yorkshire after significant increases in Covid-19 cases, the government has said.
The new rules ban separate households from meeting each other at home or in private gardens. Yet these rules do not appear to include meeting at pubs and restaurants. However, Pubs and restaurants must also shut early in parts of Lancashire and Merseyside.
Residents are also advised only to use public transport for “essential purposes”.They are also asked to avoid attending amateur or semi-professional sports events as spectators.
The latest announcement has pushed more than three million people into areas with heightened restrictions.
In total, at least 13.5 million people are in local lockdowns in the UK, roughly one in five people.
- 10.9 million people in England, or 19% of its population
- 1.8 million people in Scotland (32%)
- 422,000 people in Wales (13%)
- At least 411,000 people in Northern Ireland (22%)
The latest change means 55% of the North of England is facing restrictions, along with 22% of the Midlands.
Which areas have restrictions?
Regulations and guidance differ between the areas, but all are due to come into force from Tuesday.
The North West
In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire (excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester), the following restrictions will be enforced from Tuesday:
- residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
- hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
- late night operating hours will be restricted, with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm to 5am
- residents are encouraged to only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
- residents are being urged to avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
These rules will not apply to Bolton or Greater Manchester where separate restrictions are already in place.
In Wolverhampton and Oadby & Wigston, residents will be banned from Tuesday from socialising with outher people outside their own households or support bubbles in private homes and gardens.
People who are shielding in Leicester will no longer need to do so from 5 October.
All parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale will be banned from Tuesday from socialising with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.
Previously, some wards in these areas had been exempt from restrictions introduced at the start of August but these exemptions will no longer apply.
People who are shielding in parts of North East Blackburn will no longer need to do so from 5 October.
How are these rules enforced?
Local authorities in England have powers to:
- Close specific premises (such as shops, cafes and gyms)
- Shut outdoor spaces (such as parks, playgrounds and beaches)
- Cancel events (such as concerts, weddings and sporting events)
Central government can:
- Close sectors or types of premises in local areas
- Introduce localised stay at home orders
- Reduce the maximum size of gatherings
- Restrict the use of transport
- Stop people leaving a certain area
Can police enforce the rules?
Police have powers to make sure people stick to the restrictions. For example, if they believe that somebody is staying away overnight, they can tell them to return home.
They can also fine people for breaking the rules, and may issue a “prohibition notice” directing somebody not to do something.
But if a resident from a locked-down area wants to go to a bar in another part of the city, for example, there is nothing legally to stop them.
Instead, the government hopes people’s sense of civic responsibility will see them follow guidance to stay at home.