We will now simplify and standardise our local rules by introducing a three-tiered system of local Covid alert levels in England – set at medium, high, and very high.
The “medium” alert level, which will cover most of the country, and will consist of the current national measures. This includes the rule of six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
The “high” alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission, by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors. In these areas, the rule of six will continue to apply outdoors, where it is harder for the virus to spread, in public spaces as well as private gardens.
Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the “high” alert level. As a result of rising infection rates, Nottinghamshire, east and west Cheshire and a small area of High Peak will also move into the “high” alert level.
The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly and where the NHS could soon be under unbearable pressure without further restrictions.
In these areas the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens and, I’m sorry to say, closing pubs and bars.
We want to create the maximum possible local consensus behind this more severe local action, so in each area, we will work with local government leaders on the additional measures which should be taken. This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors. But retail, schools and universities will remain open.