The Prime Minister has set out how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England.
Addressing MPs before hosting a Downing Street press conference, he confirmed the levels will be set at medium, high, and very high.
The “medium” alert level – which will cover most of the country – will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on September 25.
This includes the Rule of Six, and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country.
The prime minister detailed how this primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between households or support bubbles indoors. The Rule of Six will apply in outdoor spaces, including private gardens.
Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the “high” alert level.
The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.
This includes incidence and test positivity, including amongst older and more at-risk age groups, as well as the growth rate, hospital admissions and other factors.
In these areas, the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens, with the Rule of Six allowed in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
People will also be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.
In a bid to create local consensus behind this more severe action, the government added that it will work with local leaders on how individual areas should go beyond this baseline, which may include measures such as the closure of gyms, casinos, and leisure centres.
Non-essential retail, schools and universities will remain open in all levels.
A postcode checker on gov.uk will show which alert level applies in each area and the NHS COVID-19 app will also direct people to this information.
Regulations for all three local alert levels will be laid today and they will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow. Subject to that vote tomorrow, they will come into force on Wednesday, subject to the approval of Parliament.
Government confirmed the measures will be kept under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause for interventions in “very high” areas.
The PM also confirmed that the government will also provide Local Authorities across England with around £1 billion of new financial support, adding that engagement with other leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber is continuing.
He also called on local leaders in the areas rated very high to work with the government on these measures, in return for more support for local test and trace, more funding for local enforcement, the offer of help from the armed services, and the job support scheme as announced by the Chancellor.