Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (October 12) confirmed the country will be covered by a three- tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels – set at medium, high, and very high.
The “medium” alert level, which will cover most of the country including Kent, will consist of the current national measures. This includes the Rule of Six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
The “high” alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission, by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors. In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors, where it is harder for the virus to spread, in public spaces as well as 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 rising most rapidly and where the NHS could soon be under unbearable pressure without further restrictions.
In these areas the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens. 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.
Working with local government leaders, there could also be additional measures in very high risk areas such as further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors.
Retail, schools and universities will remain open.
The Job Support Scheme will be paid to cover two-thirds of the wages of those in any business that is required to close and those businesses will receive a cash grant of up to £3,000 a month, instead of £1500 every three weeks.
Local Authorities across England will receive financial support and for very high areas, there will be further financial aid for local test and trace, and local enforcement
Assistance from the armed forces to support local services will be available.
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 will be laid today and they will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow. Subject to that vote tomorrow, they will 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.
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium (currently the level for Kent)
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 Six 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 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, 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.
- 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. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- 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.