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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a new three-tier lockdown system next week as the rate of coronavirus infections soars, especially in northern England.
Johnson is due to make a statement in front of parliament on Monday after stepping up contacts with affected regions after media leaks detailed the government’s plan without consulting local leaders.
His chief strategic advisor, Edward Lister, wrote to MPs representing seats in northern England on Friday after meeting regional leaders to warn them that it was “very likely” that the region would have to comply with stricter rules.
“The government will discuss a number of measures with local leaders, all of which are difficult choices,” he wrote. The meetings will continue over the weekend.
Several metropolitan areas in the north of England have faced a number of restrictions on social life, including a ban on mixing households, but the south has escaped more severe restrictions for the time being.
The three-tier system is reportedly set to clarify the patchwork of rules for England that has evolved since infection rates rose again in September.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own decentralized governments and separate health systems. Pubs across central Scotland have closed for a little over two weeks to prevent the transmission of close contacts.
The new highest level for England, level three, is expected to go beyond existing restrictions such as a curfew on pubs and restaurant closings overall.
No social contact would be permitted outside of one’s own household, including outdoors.
Following contacts with 10 Downing Street, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told the BBC on Saturday that he anticipated the northern city to enter a third tier lockdown starting Tuesday.
He said the government at least kind of informed them this time.
“But the main point of the imposition of the measures is clear: imposition. We have not been consulted.”
More than 42,000 people have died in the UK outbreak – the worst number in Europe – and concerns about a potentially more deadly second wave and its social and economic impact are growing.
The government said Friday it would pay up to two-thirds of its staff’s monthly wages to companies forced to close during the winter months.
An estimated 224,400 people – or 1 in 240 – in England had COVID-19 for the week between September 25 and October 1, according to the National Statistics Office.
Although young adults are the main drivers of the surge, the number of infections among those over 65 has increased eight-fold since last month, according to the largest UK study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.
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