BuDS was underwhelmed and disappointed by the PM’s announcement today. It seems, once again, to be too little, too late.
There will not be a national lockdown or, really, very much more done to restrict the virus’ spread. A new three-tier system of restrictions across England will be introduced by law. The exact criteria about how areas will be categorised in the new system were not announced
Most areas of England, including Buckinghamshire, will be classed as ‘Medium Risk’. The very low-level of restrictions in these areas, such as wearing face coverings, the ‘rule of 6’, and the 10 pm closure of pubs, will not change.
All areas currently under local restrictions on top of the national restrictions will be re-categorised as ‘High Risk’ areas. There will be no changes to restrictions already applying in these areas, so indoor social mixing between households will remain banned. However, there will be no new restrictions and pubs, restaurants etc will stay open.
A few areas, including Merseyside, will be categorised as ‘Very High Risk’. The main reasons that an area is classed as high risk appear to be that infection rates are rising very quickly and that the local NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed. In these areas, the Government will ban social mixing both indoors and in private gardens. The rule of 6 will apply to social mixing outdoors in public places. Pubs and bars will be closed. However, it will be up to local councils and mayors to decide what extra restrictions should apply. These could include closing restaurants, gyms, casinos, etc.
However, even in Very High Risk areas, the Government insist that all shops, schools and universities will remain open.
The PM said that a further announcement would be made later about ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ people living in the various areas. It was NOT said that shielding would be re-introduced, even in the Very High Risk areas.
More to follow as we study the detailed documents to be published by Government.