London, October 12: Liverpool is the first UK city to plunge back into lockdown as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled "tier three" or the strictest level of new curbs for the entire Merseyside county. Apart from the city of Liverpool, the four metropolitan boroughs of Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral will also face strict restrictions. Second Wave of COVID-19 in UK: Coronavirus Hospital Cases Increase by 25% in Single Day.
As part of the tier three curbs, all forms of non-essential travel would be regulated. The timings of businesses and shops not providing essential services would also be curtailed, and pubs would remain shut till further orders to prevent violation of social distancing norms.
Johnson, on Monday, laid out the details of a new graded three-tier system of COVID-19 alert levels, which will categorise the localised lockdowns across England into "medium, high or very high" based on their coronavirus transmission rate.
The very high alert level will apply where transmission rates are rising "most rapidly", with social mixing banned indoors and outdoors and a forced closure of pubs and other hospitality businesses.
Addressing Parliament, Johnson said the new categories are intended to "simplify and standardise" all the different lockdown rules already in place.
The new rules are to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday before coming into force from Wednesday, with a review of the system in a month’s time.
"This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the narrow path we have to tread between the social and economic trauma of a full lockdown and the massive human and indeed economic cost of an uncontained epidemic,” Johnson told members of Parliament.
"I must warn the House the weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country. I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed," he said.
The medium alert level or Tier 1 is the lowest alert level, which will cover most of the country and involve the current national lockdown measures of the "rule of six" on gatherings and hospitality sector shutdowns at 10pm.
Tier 2, or the high alert level, will involve restrictions already in place in some local areas with stricter bans on indoor mixing but outdoor mixing allowed within the rule of six numbers.
The "very high alert level", or Tier 3, will apply where the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) could soon be under "unbearable pressure" without further restrictions, with Merseyside including the city of Liverpool falling into this highest grade.
Johnson confirmed that most areas already subject to local restrictions – on top of the national rules – will automatically move into the "high alert" category or Tier 2.
In addition, Nottinghamshire, east and west Cheshire, and a small area of the High Peak will also move into that tier, after a rise in cases in those areas.
The UK, which has been facing a second wave of COVID-19, showed the daily COVID-19 figures clocking to 13,972 on Monday. A total of 50 more persons have died, as per the last update. The fatality count pertained to those who succumbed to the disease after testing positive within the last 28 days.
(With agency inputs)