The Prime Minister has set out a new three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England, intended to standardise and simplify local rules
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 25 September.
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.
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 be advised not to travel in and out of these areas.
To create local consensus behind this more severe action, the government 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.
Cases are rising rapidly across the country, particularly in the North East and North West, and this is resulting in increased hospitalisations and deaths.
The Prime Minster said that further action is required now to suppress the virus and make sure the NHS isn’t overwhelmed, and can continue providing essential services such as cancer care.
A postcode checker on GOV.UK shows 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 have since been published:
These 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.
He also said 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.
Full details on what the COVID Alert Levels contain are set out below.
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium
This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
Local COVID Alert Level – High
Local COVID Alert Level – Very High
This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.
The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:
Local COVID Alert Level: Medium
Local COVID Alert Level: High
High Peak – the wards of:
Local COVID Alert Level: Very High
Liverpool City Region