As of today, the three-tier system for COVID-19 restrictions has come into force across England.
The BBC reports that many took to the town in the Liverpool region last night for their last chance to go out before the rules of the "very high" tier came into force. Liverpool is currently the only region of England classified at the "very high" level in the new system.
The three tiers are the indicators of the infection rate and risk of infection levels in different regions of the UK. The three tiers are:
- Medium - the lowest tier where national restrictions apply, including the “rule of six” and pubs must be shut at 22:00.
- High - the middle tier where tighter restrictions apply including no households mixing indoors, “rule of six” must be adhered to outdoors, pubs and restaurants must be shut at 22:00.
- Very high - the highest tier where the most stringent restrictions are in place. Regions placed under this tier are now allowed household mixing indoors, or outdoors in hospitality venues or private home's gardens. The "rule of six", does, however, apply in parks and outdoor spaces. Any pubs or bars not serving meals will also be closed until further notice and travelling in and out of the area is strongly advised against.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the system as a "moderate" and "balanced" approach to keeping people safe while also protecting the economy from further decline.
The BBC reported several Tory MPs voted against the 22:00 closing time for pubs and restaurants. Despite this, Parliament approved the motion to write the new three-tier system into the law.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) released documentation on Monday, highlighting that more extreme action was called for three weeks ago, towards the end of September. Following this release, Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer expressed concerns regarding the measures in place to prevent further spreading of COVID-19.
In a press conference on Tuesday evening, Sir Kier said the measures in place at the moment were not effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19. He further suggested that other methods needed implementing to avoid a "sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter".
During the speech, Sir Kier proposed a shorter nationwide lockdown that would not lead to schools shutting down, suggesting the lockdown take place over half-term to avoid significant disruption. He did, however, say that the pubs and restaurants across the country would need to close, in which case they should be financially compensated.
In the press conference, Sir Kier said his proposals adhered to the guidance and information published by SAGE.
The Government has, however, stated that the possibility of implementing a "circuit break", as named by SAGE, would not be disregarded entirely, although they insist it would be economically irresponsible and do not want to enforce such extreme measures.