Update on tackling coronavirus
- Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly across the country. In the past four weeks, the number of Covid patients admitted to intensive care units in hospitals in some parts of the country has increased sevenfold.
- If infections continue to rise at this rate, then in just four more weeks those hospitals could be treating more Covid patients than they did at the peak of the first wave.
- The country is far better prepared for this second wave of the pandemic than it was in March; we understand far more about the virus and how it spreads.
- We must act now to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, so we can keep cancer treatments, elective surgeries and other vital diagnostic services going.
What we are doing:
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with local leaders to tackle local outbreaks with targeted restrictions. This has saved lives, and has avoided the need to apply those measures nationally.
However, this has led to different rules in different parts of the country. These have become increasingly hard to understand and to enforce.
We have already simplified national rules where possible; the Rule of Six and Hands, Face, Space.
And today, the Prime Minister has set out how – from Wednesday, 14 October 2020 – we will simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels in England. There will be three levels:
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium
This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of 6 is followed
- People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors.
Local COVID Alert Level - High
This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between households or support bubbles indoors. This means the following additional measures are in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
- People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
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:
- Pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.
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 are being laid today, will be debated and voted on tomorrow, and come into force on Wednesday, subject to the approval of Parliament.
These measures will be kept under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause for interventions in 'very high' areas.
- On Friday, the Chancellor announced new support to protect jobs and support businesses whose premises are legally required to shut as part of local or national restrictions.
- An expansion of the jobs support scheme paying the wages of staff who cannot work. The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
- Increasing cash grants for businesses will also be increased to up to £3,000 per month
- We have put in place one of the world’s most comprehensive economic responses – backed by £190 billion .
- Protected 12 million jobs through furlough and self-employed schemes – at a cost of nearly £53 billion.
- We have also put in place:
- The £1,000 Job Retention Bonus which encourages employers to keep staff on payroll.
- The original Job Support Scheme - which is designed to support businesses that are facing low demand over the winter months.
- Broader government support to local authorities in England due to Covid-19 includes:
- over £3.7 billion of un-ring-fenced grant funding to help them respond to pressure across all their services .
- over £1.1 billion ring-fenced to support social care providers, helping to tackle the spread of the virus .