Three-Tier Covid Restrictions: Here's What New Lockdown Measures Mean

Nadine White
·News reporter, HuffPost UK
·5-min read

A new three-tier system of local lockdown measures for England has been announced by the prime minister in an effort to curb rising Covid-19 rates.

Here’s what you need to know about the different restrictions.

What is happening?

Different parts of the country will be split up into “medium”, “high” or “very high” local coronavirus alert areas under the new system announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.

It comes after the prime minister held a telephone conference with Cabinet colleagues on Sunday to discuss the situation and ongoing negotiations with local leaders in the north of England.

The prime minister told MPs: “The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country.”

But he added: “I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.”

MPs will debate and vote on the measures on Tuesday and the new tiered system will come into effect on Wednesday.

What do the tiers mean?

The three tiers represent an advancing scale of local restrictions.

Tier one restrictions are the baseline restrictions in place across England, including a 10pm hospitality curfew and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.

Tier two restrictions are similar to rules currently in place in Middlesbrough and parts of the North East, where indoor mixing of households is not allowed.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into this category, as well as Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak.

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

Under the third “very high” tier restrictions, Johnson revealed in the Commons that pubs and bars will close if they fall within areas covered by the strictest restrictions. Betting shops, gyms and casinos will also shut.

But PA Media reports restaurants and pubs that serve meals will be spared from closure even under the strictest restrictions in the “very high” level.

People at that level of lockdown will be advised that they should not travel to other areas. It is understood that Johnson is happy for travel restrictions to apply only as guidance rather than law after seeing how people Leicester complied with the measure during the city’s lockdown.

Which areas may be placed into tier three?

It has been widely reported that Merseyside will enter the “very high” level of restrictions from Wednesday, with additional closures of gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos after an agreement with local leaders.

But HuffPost UK understands that local MPs were told by health secretary Matt Hancock that Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire would avoid the harshest restrictions, instead being placed in the “high” tier, which largely reflects current local lockdown measures and includes a ban on households mixing indoors.

However, Johnson said talks with leaders in the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber were “ongoing”.

Nottinghamshire, which has been hit by a huge surge in infection rates, will be placed in the “high” level. Nottingham itself now has an average 715.8 infections per 100,000 people, by far the highest level anywhere in England, according to latest NHS data.

Every area in England will be allocated a Covid alert level, with the full list set to be published later on Monday.

(Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images)
(Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images)

What has the response been?

Greater Manchester MPs were briefed by health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday that the 10 boroughs would be placed under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning they will operate under measures similar to those in place now.

Pubs serving food will be permitted to stay open but households will be banned from mixing indoors.

Labour shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon tweeted: “Call with the Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) confirms Greater Manchester will be placed in Tier 2 with household restrictions on meeting indoors in any setting, but not outdoors.

“Pubs serving food remain open.

“Oldham will be removed from its enhanced lockdown measures and brought into line with Greater Manchester at last.”

Following reports confirming the Tier 2 status, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said it was the “right decision” but called for “full financial support” to help businesses through the restrictions.

But politicians were left angry at the way the briefing had been handled, with shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy complaining of being left out.

The Wigan MP tweeted: “Just learnt Greater Manchester will be placed into Tier 2 restrictions via Twitter.

“Apparently there was a government briefing for Greater Manchester MPs but I can’t provide details because I wasn’t invited.

“I suspect this is because they don’t know where Wigan is.

“What an absolute shambles!”

(Photo: Empics Entertainment)
(Photo: Empics Entertainment)

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner called the confusion “ridiculous”, posting on social media: “Can someone please get a map up on the wall in No 10 Downing Street to help them out.”

Stockport MP Navendu Mishra labelled the government’s Covid briefing to local MPs “shambolic”.

He tweeted: “Just 21 minutes notice by Matt Hancock for his Covid-19 briefing.

“Complete disdain by this government for all those who live and work in Greater Manchester.”

What happens next?

Many of the details of how the tiers and the specific measures in each area will be negotiated and enforced are currently unclear.

On Monday, the prime minister will chair a meeting of the government’s COBR committee to finalise what will be announced in parliament.

He will later host a press conference at Downing Street where he will be joined by chancellor Rishi Sunak and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Downing Street said MPs would be asked to debate and vote on the three-tier measures next week.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.