Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

Six major changes we can expect from the UK's looming coronavirus crackdown

New lockdown rules for the UK are expected to be unveiled tomorrow, including a three-tier system that categorises parts of the country by risk.

The system will divide different regions in England into ‘medium’, ‘high’, or ‘very high’ local Covid alert areas, with each tier determining the coronavirus restrictions that area will have to follow. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a COBRA committee meeting on the issue tomorrow ‘to determine the final interventions’, before announcing them to Parliament.

Mr Johnson will also hold a press conference in Downing Street with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty on Monday.

1. Three-tier system

Areas in Tier 1 will see measures mirror England’s current restrictions: social distancing measures, the six-person rule and a 10pm pub curfew.

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Tier 2 measures are set to be significantly tighter than Tier 1. They are likely to include the above, but will also put a ban on the mixing of households, reduce funerals to 15 people and only allow visits to care homes under exceptional circumstances.

The most severe restrictions will be imposed on those in Tier 3, where some parts of the UK may face measures similar to national lockdown rules in an attempt to curb the rise in cases across the UK.

2. Closure of pubs and bars

Areas in Tier 3 might see the forced closure of pubs and bars once again. Restaurants could be allowed to stay open, but would still have to obey the 10pm curfew currently imposed on all English hospitality venues.

3. Reduced contact

Those residing in the worst-hit areas are expected to be asked not to leave their local area, in a move that would impact millions of Brits.

Under Tier 3 restrictions, these people will be forbidden from meeting up with friends or relatives from other households, with the rule applying to both indoor and outdoor environments.

4. No hair salons

Despite only reopening three months ago, beauty salons could be forced to close in areas experiencing high infection rates, the Telegraph reports.

Whether or not this rule applies to hairdressers, which were permitted to reopen before other beauty services, is unclear.

5. Test and Trace power for local authorities

Local authorities are expected to be given more autonomy over Test and Trace systems in their areas, with anger mounting at the Government over how local authorities involvement in decision making.

Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, told Sky News on Sunday: ‘We are trying to work very closely with mayors, with council leaders, with chief executives to design these measures with them. That does take time. We want to have good communication between national and local government before we announce how we are going to take this forwards.

‘People who know their local authorities are bound to be better than Whitehall national contact centres.’

6. Sunak’s wage plans

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new furlough scheme, in which the Government will pay two-thirds of the wages of those working for businesses forced to close, is set to be confirmed by the Prime Minister tomorrow.

The chancellor’s plan also includes making monthly grants of £3,000 available to businesses that have been forced to shut. Closed businesses were previously only able to claim a maximum of £1,500 every three weeks. The exact details were still being negotiated late this evening, according to local leaders in Liverpool, which is expected to be under Tier 3 restrictions.

The British Medical Association has published its own list of recommendations, including only allowing six groups of six from two households to meet, and making face coverings compulsory in offices and outdoors.

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