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Covid-19: New three-tier restrictions come into force in England

The new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions has begun in England.

Most of the country is in the lowest tier - medium - but millions of people in the North and the Midlands face extra curbs on households mixing.

The Liverpool region is the only area to be under the toughest rules, with pubs and bars not serving meals closed.

Government health officials are due to meet later to discuss the possibility of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and some other areas joining the top tier.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is set to extend the half-term holidays for schools, from Monday, alongside other new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

And in Wales a short circuit breaker lockdown is being "actively considered" by the government.

The Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said it was "disappointing" the government was "piling the pressure" on his region "without negotiating".

"It risks confusing people coming so soon after the tier two announcement," he said, adding that "unfunded restrictions are unfair and will cause real damage to lives, jobs and businesses".

 

It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a two to three-week "circuit-breaker" lockdown in England to bring the infection rate under control.

The new three-tier system sees every area of England classed as being on medium, high or very high alert.

Areas on medium alert are subject to the national restrictions currently in force, including the rule of six on indoor and outdoor gatherings and the 22:00 closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants.

In addition to these restrictions, in areas on high alert - including north-east England, much of the North West and parts of the Midlands, along with West and South Yorkshire - different households are not allowed to mix indoors.

Areas on very high alert face extra curbs, with different households banned from mixing indoors or outdoors in hospitality venues or private gardens.

Pubs and bars will be closed unless they are serving substantial meals and there is also guidance against travelling in and out of the area.

Further restrictions may be agreed for particular regions in the top tier and in the Liverpool City Region gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos will also close.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the system was a "moderate" and "balanced" approach to saving lives while trying to protect the economy.

But MPs in Liverpool said the city "risks being dragged back to the 1980s" without proper financial support alongside the new restrictions.

Parliament has approved the legislation to write a new three-tier system into law, but 42 Tory MPs rebelled in a vote to express their disapproval of the 22:00 closing time for pubs and restaurants in England.

Source: BBC

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