The prime minister will today unveil his new three-tier system, which will see pubs, bars and gyms forced to close in England’s hardest-hit areas.
Boris Johnson is reportedly set to ban overnight stays in Covid-19 hotspots, while an order for all-but-essential travel in and out of those areas will be reimposed.
The prime minister will hold an emergency Cobra meeting first thing Monday to finalise details with ministers before setting out the course of action for the nation in the Commons. Johnson will later address the nation this evening, along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty.
His announcement will come after a weekend of backlash from northern leaders who warn his plans will ‘shatter’ their ‘fragile economies’, as they demanded greater Government support for millions affected. Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and some parts of Yorkshire are some of the areas expected to be hit with the toughest measures.
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England will be split into three with areas labelled as medium, high, or very high risk and such titles will inform the public and officials of the ‘appropriate interventions’ needed. Any area categorised under Level 3 – or very high risk – will see the harshest measures imposed.
From 5pm on Wednesday, hundreds of pubs and bars in North England are set to be ordered to close for a month under Tier 3, according to The Telegraph.
Any business which is forced to shut its doors to the public will reportedly have two-thirds of each employee’s monthly wages of up to £2,100 paid by the Government.
According to The Sun, overnight stays at other peoples’ homes will be banned for the same time period and all-but-essential travel will be banned. Travel for work or education or emergency needs will be classed as essential.
Residents living in areas under Tier 2 will not be allowed to mix with other households indoors or outdoors, while Tier 1 will see similar restrictions to those currently in place across England, including social distancing and mandatory face coverings in public spaces.
Merseyside is expected to be among the areas subjected to Tier 3 restrictions, with reports suggesting measures will be applied for a month and reviewed. But they could stay in place for as long as six months with monthly assessments.
However, there is still disagreement about a financial support package for the area and other regions in the north.
A statement from seven local leaders, including Metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, said: ‘We made it clear we do not feel that the Furlough scheme announced recently is adequate and that businesses in the Region especially those in the hospitality sector and those serving it will be damaged and many will suffer long term damage or close for good.
‘Government made it very, very clear they would not shift and improve the scheme.’
Anderson tweeted last night: ‘We have not agreed anything, we have been told this is what Government intends to do with ‘no buts.’
‘I and all the Leaders of the CA and @MetroMayorSteve have not accepted anything we have been trying to get financial support to protect our businesses and support our Region.’
Rotheram also said he will not accept the chancellor’s current package, telling Channel 4 News: ‘We have a huge number, a disproportionate number, working in the visitor economy who are on less than £9 an hour.
‘If he (Chancellor Rishi Sunak) thinks that this is something that we will accept, well it’s not.’
Knowsley and Liverpool, two of the effected areas, are in the top three for infection rates in England – at 669.5 per 100,000 people and 598.5 respectively.
In the seven days to October 8, the areas reported nearly 4,000 new cases.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.
‘We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.
‘This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.’
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