UK Implements New Restrictions For Lockdown As The Number Of COVID-19 Cases Surge In The Country

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According to the latest figures by the Office for National Statistics, in the week to October 2, 343 people lost their lives to the deadly virus and the figure keeps doubling every fortnight. Moreover, according to the U.K. government data, the 7-day average of new cases has increased to 14,588, as of October 9. While for the week prior to that, the average was 10,927. The U.K stands as the third worst-hit country with a total of 620,458 coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the government released simplified rules after the previous ones were criticized to be too complicated. On Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said while addressing the public that the nation was “entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus. Because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.”

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The Three-Tier System

Depending upon the degree of effect on an area of COVID-19, three different levels of restrictions have been announced. This three-tier COVID alert system, outlined by Johnson, has assigned areas as “medium”, “high” or “very high”, depending on the gravity of the virus in each area.

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Under Tier 1, areas are designated to the “medium” level of restrictions which includes the rule of no more than six people meeting at the same time and pubs and restaurants close by 10 p.m. These rules are currently the part of the restrictions that are implemented across the nation.

The “Tier 2” has areas that are in the “high” alert group. This includes a ban on indoor social mixing between households and support bubbles and pubs that don’t provide “substantial meals” will be shut.

In the last tier, “Tier 3”, areas are designated as being on “very high alert” and have the strictest restrictions. The least requirement is for people living in these areas to be banned from social mixing between households, both indoors and outdoors. Moreover, the people would be asked not to travel into or out of these areas. As for pubs and bars, they will be forced to shut unless they are able to operate as a restaurant only, giving alcohol only with a meal.

Areas under Tier 3 will be under “intolerable pressure”, warned Johnson, with them being reviewed every four weeks.

As of now, the majority of areas are in the “medium” category which is the lowest tier. The areas that had earlier seen lockdowns are now categorized as” high” risk. The city of Nottingham and nearby areas are under this category. Essex has been asked to move to “high” level restrictions.

The only part in the “very high” risk category is Liverpool city where stricter rules will be imposed from Wednesday onwards.

The Sage Papers

On the other hand, newly released documents show that the government’s scientific advisers had called for a short lockdown in the country last month to contain the spread of COVID-19. It was said that an immediate “circuit breaker” would be the best measure to put a halt on the surge of cases.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that facilitates the U.K government in decision making, stated that the advisers had called in for an immediate short national lockdown three weeks ago. They had suggested a ban on all social contact inside homes, shutting down all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms, and hairdressers, and lastly, demanding all university and college teaching to take place online.

At that time, the government only implemented the policy of working from home for those who could do it.

A warning by Sage was also given in the documents saying that “not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”.

However, the government still is reluctant on imposing a nationwide lockdown, considering the economic damage that the first lockdown caused that was implemented on March 23. According to the predictions from the International Monetary Fund, the U.K. economy is expected to contract 10.2% in 2020.

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick said, while talking to BBC,  “We are now able to have a very clear and consistent framework across the whole country, so people will be able to understand approximately what the rate of infections is in their own area and what the rules are accordingly.”

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