A waitress wearing a face mask or cover due to the Covid-19 pandemic takes orders from drinkers who were seated at a table outside a bar in central Liverpool, northwest England, on October 10, 2020.
LINDSEY PARNABY | AFP | Getty Images
The UK has announced further measures to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus cases in England, combining a three-tier warning system with local bans and statewide restrictions.
The government's new approach, outlined on Monday, aimed to simplify the rules after criticizing that the existing restrictions – which differed across the country – were too complicated.
The new measures will take some time, however, and the possibility of national lockdown remains a very topical threat.
What was announced in the UK?
The UK government on Monday unveiled a new coronavirus alert system for England that spans three tiers to determine the extent to which cities and regions will be closed.
The move comes as the government tries to contain a rapid surge in coronavirus infections and avoid another national lockdown.
Speaking to the House of Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he understands the frustration of those who “rubbed” under the current restrictions. However, he added, "We cannot let the virus rip apart … I think failing to act would be unforgivable."
Addressing the UK public on Monday evening, Johnson said the nation had "entered a new and decisive phase in our fight against coronavirus. Because the number of cases has risen four times in four weeks and is re-spreading among the elderly and vulnerable." "
"In this way we can suppress this virus wherever it appears that we are today simplifying, standardizing and tightening the local regulations in England in some places by introducing three levels of Covid warning," he added.
A television shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the House of Commons in London as customers sit at the bar in the Richmond Pub in Liverpool in north west England on October 12, 2020 as new local lockdown measures are in place to help strain a second wave of the new Coronavirus Covid-19.
PAUL ELLIS | AFP | Getty Images
What is the Covid Warning System?
Johnson presented a three-stage Covid warning system on Monday, which classifies the areas as either "medium", "high" or "very high" (levels 1, 2 or 3) depending on the severity of the infection rate.
Areas designated as "Tier 1" are subject to the "medium" restrictions, which are essentially the current state-wide restrictions. This includes the rule that no more than six people are allowed to meet and that pubs and restaurants must close at 10 p.m.
In the "Tier 2" or "high" alarm category, indoor mixing of households and support bubbles is prohibited, and pubs that do not serve "essential meals" will be closed.
Areas classified as "Tier 3" are on "very high alert" and are subject to the most stringent measures. People who live in these areas are subject to at least one ban on any social mixing between indoor and outdoor households. In addition, pubs and bars will have to close unless they can only be operated as a restaurant and only serve alcohol as part of a meal. The public is requested not to enter or leave any areas of this category.
Areas of "very high alert" are those where the country's national health service "will quickly find itself under intolerable pressure without further action," warned Johnson. Areas within this category are reviewed every four weeks.
A social distancing sign is posted next to traffic lights on October 08, 2020 in Liverpool, England.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Which areas are at which alert level?
The majority of England is currently at "medium" risk.
The parts of the country that have already had local bans banning the mixing of households are now classified as "high" risk. Some areas, including the city of Nottingham and its environs, will now be moved to this level and will be subject to Tier 2 restrictions.
As of Wednesday, the Liverpool metropolitan area will reach the "very high" alert. This makes it the only area in the country that belongs to category 3 and is subject to the strictest rules.
"In addition to pubs and bars, we have agreed with the Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, that gyms, leisure centers, betting shops, adult gaming centers and casinos will be closed," the Prime Minister announced.
If you live in England, you will shortly be able to check the restrictions in your area by checking your post code (or post code) on the government website even though this service is not yet operational.
Why did the government do this?
The move should take into account the diverse picture of infection rates in the country. Some areas of northern England, such as Liverpool and Manchester, have seen some increases, while other areas of the country have barely seen new infections since a "second wave" of the virus began in August.
Another 13,972 cases were reported in the UK on Monday, up from 12,872 infections the previous day. The 7-day average for new cases was 14,588 on October 9; a week earlier it was 10,927, according to the UK government.
With a total of 620,458 cases, After Spain, with just under 889,000 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University and France with just over 776,000 cases, the third most affected country in Europe.
Will there be another national lockdown?
Don't rule it out. On Tuesday morning, it emerged that key scientific advisors to the government a few weeks ago said the country should go into a national mini-lock to act as a "breaker" to stop the virus.
However, given the economic damage caused by the first lockdown on March 23, the government is extremely reluctant to impose another national lockdown. The UK economy is expected to shrink by 10.2% in 2020according to forecasts of the International Monetary Fund.