Millions could be banned from socialising under new three-tier coronavirus restrictions
Written by on 11 October 2020
Millions of people could be banned from mixing inside and outside and thousands of pubs might be forced to close under new coronavirus restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to outline a new three-tiered system of restrictions on Monday, with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across the north of England.
Under the proposed system, different parts of the country would be placed in different categories, with areas in the highest level expected to face the toughest measures.
Ben Houchen, the Conservative mayor of the Tees Valley, has said third tier restrictions are expected to run in four-week blocks.
Pubs and bars would be required to close and no household mixing would be allowed for socialising either indoors or outdoors.
The move could affect millions of people living in areas with high COVID-19 rates across England.
Real estate adviser Altus Group has said there are 7,171 pubs in areas with restrictions across the north of England at risk of temporary closure.
Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, said he has been in discussions with Number 10 about placing the city into the third tier, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
It comes amid mounting concern over the number of cases and the capacity of intensive care units at hospitals in the area.
However, leaders across northern England have criticised the government’s wider plans and said ministers are treating the region as “second-class”.
They have also not ruled out legal action.
Westminster has been drawing up proposals to give mayors more powers over the Test and Trace system to try to secure the support of northern leaders, The Sunday Times reports.
Details of the plans were being thrashed out between ministers and mayors on Saturday amid warnings that immediate action is needed to stop the NHS being swamped in the North, the newspaper added.
People were seen socialising in city centres across the UK – including Liverpool, Newcastle and London – on Saturday evening head of potential pubs closures.
It comes as the number of people in hospital with coronavirus increased across every part of England on Saturday – rising to 1,167 in the North West from 725 previous week.
A further 15,166 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were reported on Saturday, and 81 more deaths were confirmed of people who died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday workers in businesses which are forced to close under the new restrictions will have two-thirds of their wages paid by the government.
But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that accepting Mr Sunak’s financial package would be to “surrender” people to hardship in the run up to Christmas.
Speaking at a news conference with political leaders from Liverpool, Sheffield and Tyneside on Saturday, Mr Burnham said the measures risked “severe redundancies” and business closures.
Mr Burnham added: “It will level down the north of England and widen the north-south divide.”
Steve Rotherham, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said during the conference: “The government can’t do COVID lockdown for Liverpool City region and the North on the cheap.”
Burnham: Govt measures will ‘widen North-South divide’the economy.
Northern leaders have called for more cash to support areas placed under tougher restrictions, warning ministers they cannot lockdown the North “on the cheap”.
The leaders of West Yorkshire councils also warned on Friday that “significantly” more financial support was needed to prevent an even deeper economic catastrophe.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was also critical of the business aid package and said the government had “lost sight of the guiding principle” that restrictions are always accompanied by appropriate economic support.
But the Sunday Times has reported plans are being drawn up to give local leaders powers to deploy an army of volunteer contact tracers as well as giving local authorities more control over mobile testing units and walk-in centres.
A government spokeswoman said all financial support will be kept under review, to support businesses and protect jobs over the coming weeks and months.
In North Wales, new coronavirus restrictions were introduced in Bangor at 6pm on Saturday, meaning people will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a “reasonable excuse” and can only meet people they do not live with outdoors, it said.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the country is at a tipping point similar to the first wave of coronavirus, but can prevent history repeating itself.
The UK reported another 15,166 coronavirus cases and a further 81 deaths in the daily update on Saturday.
It marked a rise of 1,302 cases on Friday’s daily figures – when 87 deaths were reported – and means the UK has now recorded 42,760 coronavirus-related deaths.