Covid: New restrictions for England likely next week


The government is likely to tighten coronavirus restrictions for parts of England on Monday – including the possibility of closing pubs and restaurants, the BBC understands.

Ministers are also likely to introduce three tiers for local lockdowns – as reported by the BBC last week.

But ministers are now discussing how severe the top tier should be.

The Treasury is looking at providing financial support to the hospitality industry in the worst hit areas.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says this support could also be distributed across the country if there were widespread closures.

The decision would follow further restrictions being put in place in Scotland from Friday, including limiting pub opening hours and the sale of alcohol indoors.

But no final decision has been made on the extent of the potential closures in England or the time period.

The number of UK cases rose by 14,162 on Wednesday.

It’s a complicated equation. The Department of Health is worried about the spread of the disease, as well as other patients losing out on other treatments because of the focus on Covid.

No 11 is fearful about the impact on the economy, which has already had a profound shock.

And it’s No 10’s job to worry about all of it, then reach a conclusion.

But Boris Johnson also knows that his own MPs and the opposition parties are more and more sceptical as each day passes about what the government proposes.

It’s clear that shutting pubs and restaurants is a possibility – the “circuit breaker” that we have talked about on here lots of times.

But there are many questions still to be settled.

Read more from Laura here.

The changes would come as areas across the country are seeing their level of positive Covid cases rise.

A spike in Nottingham saw it become the area with the fourth-highest infection rate in England, with 496.8 per 100,000 of population.

Local authorities across the county of Nottinghamshire have asked residents to avoid mixing with other households, but official restrictions have yet to be put in place.

Earlier, Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer clashed over the effectiveness and fairness Covid restrictions at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Sir Keir accused the PM of incompetence, saying: “The prime minister really needs to understand that local communities are angry and frustrated,”

But the PM accused Labour of changing its stance, saying: “What kind of signal does this send to the people of the country about the robustness of the Labour Party and their willingness to enforce the restrictions?”

Three tiers

The government confirmed last month it was looking at introducing a new three-tier system for local lockdowns, as a way of simplifying the rules.

However, the BBC learned last week that the plan had got the final sign-off by government officials and politicians and was set to be rolled out in mid-October.

The memo seen by the BBC shows plans for additional money for local authorities placed into tiers two or three.

Local authorities would get £1 per head of population if placed into tier two and £2 per head for tier three.

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