A guide to the alert system, shutdowns and rules

A guide to the alert system, shutdowns and rules

A waitress wearing a face mask or covering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, takes orders from drinkers sat at a table outside a bar in the center of Liverpool, north west England on October 10, 2020.

LINDSEY PARNABY | AFP | Getty Images

The U.K. has revealed further measures aimed at curbing a rapid spread of coronavirus cases in England, combining a three-tier alert system with local lockdowns and nationwide restrictions.

The government’s new approach, outlined Monday, aimed to simplify the rules after criticism that the existing restrictions — which differed across the country — were too complicated.

Nonetheless, the new measures will take some time to get used to and the possibility of a national lockdown is still a very present threat.

What’s been announced in the U.K.?

The British government outlined a new coronavirus alert system for England on Monday, which includes three tiers to determine the degree to which cities and regions are shut down.

The move comes as the government attempts to curb a rapid increase in coronavirus infections and tries to avoid another national lockdown.

Speaking to the House of Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he understood the frustration of those who had been “chafing” under the current restrictions. However, he added: “We can’t let the virus rip … I believe not to act would be unforgivable.”

Addressing the British public Monday evening, Johnson said the nation was “entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus. Because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.”

“So we can squash this virus wherever it appears we are today simplifying, standardizing and in some places toughening local rules in England by introducing three levels of Covid alert,” he added.

A television shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons in London, as customers sit atthe bar inside the Richmond Pub in Liverpool, north west England on October 12, 2020, as new local lockdown measures are set to be imposed to help stem a second wave of the novel coronavirus Covid-19.

PAUL ELLIS | AFP | Getty Images

What is the Covid alert system?

Johnson outlined a three-tier Covid alert system on Monday, with areas designated either “medium,” “high” or “very high” (Tiers 1, 2 and 3 respectively) depending on the severity of their infection rate.

Areas designated as “Tier 1” will be subject to the “medium” level of restrictions, which are essentially the nationwide restrictions currently in place. These include a rule that no more than six people can meet and that pubs and restaurants must close by 10 p.m.

In the “Tier 2” bracket, or “high” alert category, indoor social mixing between households and support bubbles is banned, and pubs that don’t serve “substantial meals” will be closed.

Areas that are classified as “Tier 3” are on “very high alert” and will be put under the strictest measures. At a minimum, people who live in these areas will be subject to a ban on all social mixing between households, both indoors and outdoors. In addition, pubs and bars will be forced to close unless they can operate solely as a restaurant, serving alcohol only as part of a meal. The public will be asked not to travel into and out of areas in this category.

Areas on “very high alert” are those where the country’s National Health Service “will swiftly be under intolerable pressure” without further action, Johnson warned. Areas within this category will reviewed every four weeks.

A social distancing sign is affixed next to traffic lights signals on October 08, 2020 in Liverpool, England.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Which areas are at which alert level?

Why did the government do it?

Will there be another national lockdown?

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