Boris Johnson has today unveiled a stricter three-tier local lockdown system and a raft of new measures that will come into force as England moves out of a second national lockdown.
The tiered system was first introduced back in October to try and curb the rising spread of coronavirus and the Prime Minister warned that more regions will "fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before".
He also said the new tiers would be tougher than their predecessors, after Government scientific advisers said the previous regime did not do enough to tackle the virus.
Lancashire was previously placed under Tier 3 restrictions before the second national lockdown started on November 5.
Most parts of the county have been living with a mixture of local and national restrictions since the end of July.
Infection rates and case numbers across the county are falling, but most areas are still above the England average of 239.9
Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Pendle still have infection rates higher than 400 while Lancaster has called to be treated differently due to its significantly lower infection rate of 137.
Here we look at what the new three-tiered system brings and what it could mean for Lancashire if we're placed back into Tier 3.
What do the three tiers look like now?
The most notable change is that the 10pm curfew has been adjusted. Now, last orders must be taken at 10pm and closing time at 11pm, allowing customers to depart in a staggered way.
In Tier 1 (medium) areas, people have to stick to meeting in groups of six or fewer indoors or outdoors and pubs and restaurants will only be permitted to offer table service and will have to stop taking orders at 10pm and shut at 11pm. Overnight stays are permitted in groups of up to six people. Weddings and funerals, following current Covid guidelines, can go ahead as planned, gyms can reopen and the rule of six will apply both indoors and outdoors.
In Tier 2 (high) areas, the rule of six will also apply, but people will be banned from mixing indoors. Pubs and restaurants will only be permitted to stay open if they serve “substantial” meals. Additionally, hospitality venues may only serve alcohol with substantial meals. Like in Tier 1, last orders are at 10pm and pubs and restaurants will close at 11pm. Overnight stays are permitted only with those in your support bubble.
In Tier 3 (very high) areas, these are the toughest of restrictions set in place in England. There will be a complete ban on household mixing indoors and most outdoor places apart from public spaces such as parks, public gardens and sports courts, where you can meet in groups of six or less. The hospitality sector may only remain open for takeaway, drive-through or delivery. Unnecessary travel and overnight stays are also strongly advised against.
Outlining the tiers, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons: “In particular, in Tier 1 people should work from home wherever possible.
“In Tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.
“In Tier 3, indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will have to close, along with all forms of hospitality except for delivery and takeaways.
“Unlike the previous arrangements, tiers will now be a uniform set of rules… We won’t have negotiations on additional measures with each region, it’s a uniform set of rules. We’ve learnt from experience that there are some things we can do differently.”
“So from the 10pm closing time… we’re going to change so that it is last orders at 10 with closing at 11.
“In tiers 1 and 2 spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls.
“We’ll also strengthen the enforcement ability of local authorities, including specially trained officers and new powers to close down premises that pose a risk to public health.”
What tier will Lancashire be placed in?
Which tier each area of Lancashire is placed in isn't due to be announced until Thursday (November 26).
The allocation of tiers will be dependent on a number of factors, including each area's case numbers, the reproduction rate - or R number - and the current and projected pressure on the NHS locally.
Before the national lockdown, Lancashire was in Tier 3 with some of the highest infection rates in the country.
However the number of new cases have dropped in most areas and on Friday every area of the county had an infection rate below 500 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early October.
MPs are expected to be given a vote to approve the new system in the days before it comes into force.
It is understood a decision has not yet been made on Lancashire. It is also feasible that different areas of Lancashire will be placed in different tiers due to the difference in infection rates. Lancaster, in particular, has pushed not to be grouped with the areas with the highest rates of infection.
What will happen over Christmas?
The Government is working on a time-limited Christmas dispensation with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson said Christmas would not be “normal” this year but recognised that “time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none” in a period of adversity.
Plans are expected to be finalised later this week.
He told the Commons: “I can’t say that Christmas will be normal this year, but in a period of adversity time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.
“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don’t want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January.
“So to allow families to come together, while minimising the risk, we’re working with the devolved administrations on a special time-limited Christmas dispensation, embracing the whole of the United Kingdom.”
How long will the new tier system last for?
The country will face tiered restrictions until the end of March when the current lockdown ends on December 2.
The individual tiers will be reviewed every 14 days.
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