Three-tier 'traffic light' system expected in days so rules are 'less confusing'
A simplified ‘traffic light’ system for local lockdown rules could be introduced in the UK within days, it has emerged.
The Government is considering tougher coronavirus restrictions for parts of northern England as the second wave accelerates, with around 14,000 new cases a day across Britain.
But with millions of people living under a patchwork of different local rules, ministers have privately acknowledged they are confusing for people to follow.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Downing Street would like to be ‘more consistent’ on localised restrictions that are ‘easier to understand’.
He said a proportionate and local response ‘must be the right way forward’ in dealing with the pandemic from now on.
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Defending the use of local lockdowns so far, he said: The measures objectively work, we know that if you limit contact between individuals, then that helps to reduce the rate of transmissions.
‘The measures that we’ve taken in those local lockdowns will have helped to flatten the curve.’
But he was challenged on the fact that Bolton has its infection rate increase 13 times since local restrictions were introduced in the end of July.
It has gone up 20 times in Burnley and and 13 times in Bury. In responde Jenrick said: ‘We know that, and we understand, that in some of the places where we’ve imposed local restrictions, we haven’t yet seen the impact that we would like to have seen.
‘We understand that’s extremely frustrating to local people in those areas. However it’s not correct to say that that strategy isn’t working, because if we hadn’t chosen to put in place those measures, then the rate of infection would be even higher than it is today, even tighter restrictions might now be being considered.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with England’s regional Mayors on Monday on how to improve the system of local lockdowns and said ministers were working on a ‘more simplified approach’.
He told the Commons: ‘It is critical that our rules are clear at local level so that the public can be certain of what they need to do to suppress this virus.
‘I will update the House in due course on what action the government are taking, so that we can have more consistent approaches to levels of local action, working with our colleagues in local government.’
Under a draft traffic light system seen by the Guardian, level three – the most serious – would involve closing hospitality and leisure businesses, a ban on all social contact outside of household groups, restrictions on overnight stays away from home.
It would also mean no non-professional sports or other communal hobbies or activities.
The report said level three would be enforced ‘in geographical areas or nationally when alert level two measures have not contained the spread of the virus, or where there has been a significant rise in transmission’.
According to the leaked document, households will be banned from meeting in pubs, restaurateurs, private homes or gardens, with the exception of those in support bubbles.
Care home visits will be allowed in exceptional circumstances and travel will be limited to essential purposes only.
Alert level one would include all the restrictions currently in place across England, the newspaper adds.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are seeing coronavirus cases rise at a rapid rate across the country and, given how serious this virus is, it is vital everyone plays their part by following the rule of six, washing their hands, practising social distancing and wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.
‘As we have shown, we are prepared to take action decisively when it is necessary, and it is of course right to look how we make sure everyone understands and complies with the restrictions that will keep us all safe.’
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