The British government sculpted England into three-tiered coronavirus risk on Monday in an effort to slow the recurrence of the epidemic, placing the northern city of Liverpool in the greatest risk group and shut down its bars, gyms, and betting shops.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the three-level national structure was designed to “simplify and standardize” a complex patchwork of local laws as the country reaches the “crucial process.” Johnson said that hospitals are already packing more COVID-19 patients than in March when he ordered a national lockdown.
“These numbers glare at us like a cockpit warning in a commuter jet, and we must act now,” he said at a televised news conference.
Johnson told legislators that the goal of the new scheme was to save lives without “shutting our lives and our culture” in a new nationwide lockdown. Through initiatives that are placing a brake on social interactions and the leisure sector, Johnson said shops, schools, and universities will stay open in all regions.
Any scientists doubted whether the regulations had gone far enough. Minutes of Monday’s meetings of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Emergencies revealed that the panel proposed three weeks earlier that the government consider tougher action, including a brief ‘circuit-breaker’ lock-down.
The government has rejected the idea.
“I and others who proposed very drastic local approaches, if possible three to four weeks ago, fear that we might be in another position now,” said Calum Semple, professor of epidemic medicine at Liverpool University and a member of the Advisory Committee.
Since declining over the summer, coronavirus cases are on the rise in the United Kingdom. As winter approaches, the steepest increases are seen in the northwest and northeast England. Liverpool has one of the most significant outbreaks in the world, with about 600 cases per 100,000 population, far more than the hard-hit European cities of Madrid and Brussels.
Under the new measures, regions in England are graded at low, moderate or extremely high risk and are subject to restrictions of varying severity.
Areas at the lowest level would be subject to current national limits, including 10 p.m. A curfew on bars and restaurants and a ban on the assembly of more than six people. In high-risk zones, members of various families are forbidden from gathering indoors.
The “extremely high” risk tier will face limits, including the closure of pubs — other than those selling meals — and, where local councils like other venues, such as gyms and casinos.
Liverpool was the only area in the top category on Monday, but Johnson said that the authorities were also talking to other local officials across northern England.
Pubs, gyms, leisure centers, betting shops, and casinos in Liverpool will be closed from Wednesday to Wednesday.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said local officials endorsed stricter controls as long as they were followed by enhanced test-and-trace measures to suppress outbreaks of infections — which he said the government had agreed to.
The government has proposed a funding plan to pay two-thirds of the wages of staff of firms who are told to shut down, but those in the bar and restaurant industry argue who this is not enough to save already failing businesses.
The United Kingdom. The most lethal outbreak in Europe, with an official death toll of 42,875. Health officials say that Britain is at the tip of the outbreak, with strong action needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed at a time when they are already busy with flu and other winter conditions.
Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, said that three temporary COVID-19 hospitals in northern England, which had been mothballed when the epidemic receded over the summer, were able to admit patients again in the coming weeks.
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said Monday that although northern England has the highest rates of infection, cases are on the increase across the world. Infections have grown more dramatically in older teens and young adults, who typically have moderate symptoms but extend to older and more at-risk populations.
Bar and restaurant owners have pushed back against the new restrictions, saying that the government has not shared any evidence to support the claim that they are the main sources of transmission of the virus.
Manchester City Council Leader Richard Leese said that data from the city’s public health officials “seem to show that there is no particular link between bars and restaurants and the transmission of COVID.”
But Semple, the government’s science advisor, said “most of the outbreaks are occurring within and within households, and thereafter, in the retail and hospitality industries.”
The steps declared on Monday shall extend to England. The remainder in the United Kingdom. It is subject to similar, and sometimes tougher, restrictions. In Scotland’s two major towns, Glasgow and Edinburgh, pubs have been closed for 16 days to avert the outbreak.