LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new system of lockdown rules on Monday, classifying the risk level in regions to help tackle rising infection rates in parts of England and simplify existing regulations.
WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING THIS?
1. Because infection rates in parts of England, particularly in the north of the country, are rising fast.
Health officials say data show infections are beginning to move from younger people to more vulnerable older age groups, and will continue to spread further across the country.
2. The existing rules are confusing.
Over the summer, the government has tried to shut down outbreaks by tightening restrictions on an area-by-area basis. That has spawned a patchwork of different rules which ministers say needs simplifying.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING?
The government announced three tiers of regulations, each with broadly standardised rules.
Tier One: Medium
This is essentially a continuation of the existing national-level rules. The main points are:
- Rule of Six: When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should meet in groups of six or less.
- Early hospitality closure: Pubs, restaurants and others must be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
This tier covers everywhere in England where there are not stricter rules in place.
Tier Two: High
This level aims to prevent further household-to-household transmission of the virus.
- All mixing between households indoors is prohibited
- The rule of six applies outdoors
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible
Most areas that have already been placed under some form of local lockdown have been put in this category, including Manchester and the surrounding areas, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Leeds.
Tier Three: Very High
This applies in the areas of greatest concern, and will define a minimum set of rules:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- Pubs and bars will be told to close. Pubs that can operate as a restaurant will be allowed to stay open, but will only be able to serve alcohol as part of a substantial meal.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed.
- People should try to avoid entering or leaving the area unless for work, education, to fulfil caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a 'Very High' area, or avoid staying overnight in a 'Very High' area if they are resident elsewhere.
- Additional measures can be imposed with the agreement of local leaders. These could include closing other sectors such as gyms and casinos.
The only confirmed region in this category is Liverpool and some surrounding areas.
Schools, universities and non-essential retail will not be closed.
WHO DOES THIS SYSTEM APPLY TO?
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own rules, although they have all committed to working together where at all possible.
(Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Ed Osmond)