Boris Johnson Has Warned Of A New Year Lockdown As Liverpool And London Escape The Toughest Covid Restrictions
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed which areas will be in which tier of coronavirus restrictions from next month (PA)
Boris Johnson has warned now is not the time for "taking our foot off the throat of the beast" as he raised the risk of a potential new year lockdown.
The government has revealed which measures the public will face on a regional basis from December 3 onwards, with much of England set for harsher constraints after the current lockdown than when they entered it.
Liverpool and London escaped the toughest Covid restrictions, but Manchester, Birmingham, Kent and Newcastle will be placed into tier 3 from next month.
At a press conference in Number 10 on Thursday, the prime minister said "your tier is not your destiny – every area has the means of escape”, promising the measures would be reviewed every two weeks from December 16.
But he said failing to adhere to the new measures now could mean tigher national restrictions after Christmas, during which there will be a five-day relaxation of the rules.
"If we ease off now we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard-won gains and forcing us back to a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean," he added.
Almost all of the country will be in at least tier 2 next week, banning all households mixing indoors and putting restrictions on hospitality, with only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly placed in the lowest tier.
Liverpool, which had been in tier 3 before the lockdown, will be downgraded to tier 2 next month after it has driven down infections and piloted a mass testing scheme.
But its North West neighbour Greater Manchester will remain in the highest level as despite continued improvement in the region's case rate several of its NHS trusts "remain under significant pressure".
Tier 3 restrictions will mean no indoor household mixing apart from support bubbles, no household mixing outdoors apart from some public spaces such as parks and public gardens, while pubs and restaurants will remain closed.
But all shops will stay open, as will personal care services such as hairdressers and beauticians, and indoor leisure is allowed but not in group activities, and outdoor sports are allowed too.
Indoor entertainment venues will have to remain closed, spectators will not be allowed back at sporting events, and people are advised not to travel outside of a tier 3 area unless necessary.
Overnight stays are only permitted within support bubbles, places of worship can open and weddings and cvil partnerships can take place with a maximum of 15 guests, although wedding receptions are not allowed, and funerals are limited to 30 people.
A postcode checker website was launched ahead of a statement in Parliament by Matt Hancock, but it crashed within seconds as the public raced to find out what tier they would be in.
The health secretary said: "These are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice, and the criteria that we set out in the Covid-19 Winter Plan."
The regulations require the government to review the allocation of tiers every 14 days, with the first review complete by the end of 16 December.
Defending the current lockdown Mr Hancock said England has "successfully turned the curve and begun to ease pressure on the NHS” as a result of the measure.
"Cases are down by 19% from a week ago and daily hospital admissions have fallen 7% in the last week,” he told the Commons.
"January and February are always difficult months for the NHS so it is vital we safeguard the gains we made."
He said "as tempting as it may be we cannot simply flick a switch and try to return life straight back to normal", saying the measures are necessary given the "scale of the threat" faced by the UK.
"The majority of England will be in Tier 2, but in a significant number of areas I'm afraid (they) need to be in Tier 3 to bring case rates down," the Cabinet minister explained.
"Now, I know how tough this is, both for areas that have been in restrictions for a long time like Leicester and Greater Manchester, and also for areas where cases have risen sharply like Bristol, the West Midlands and Kent."
Mr Hancock said he understood that many areas will want to be in a lower tier after the current four-week lockdown, but explained: "The lowest case rates are in Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly which will go into Tier 1.
"In all three areas, they've had very low case rates throughout and I want to thank residents for being so vigilant through the whole pandemic."
However, Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said even under the new system, Tier 1 would likely lead to an increase in infections.
“Tier 1, which is very similar to the previous Tier 1, slowed things down but did not stop the rise anywhere," he told Thursday's press conference.
“So the reason why Tier 1 at this time of year, with the current measures we currently have before we have any vaccines, is relatively limited is almost certainly anywhere going into Tier 1 will rise and the only places that are there are places with very low rates at the moment.”
The full list of restrictions is below:
Tier 1: Medium alert
Isle of Wight
Isles of Scilly
Tier 2: High alert
Liverpool City Region
Warrington and Cheshire
Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
East of England
Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
Brighton and Hove
Windsor and Maidenhead
Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
Bath and North East Somerset
Wiltshire and Swindon
Tier 3: Very High alert
Tees Valley Combined Authority:
Redcar and Cleveland
North East Combined Authority:
Newcastle upon Tyne
Blackburn with Darwen
Yorkshire and The Humber
Birmingham and Black Country
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
Derby and Derbyshire
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
Leicester and Leicestershire
Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
Kent and Medway