UK shuts pubs in hot spots as virus spreads

Bloomberg October 13 | Updated on October 13, 2020 Published on October 13, 2020

St Stephen’s Tavern pub (file photo)   -  Bloomberg

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out plan for a three-tier system of Covid alert levels

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions to control the surge in coronavirus, with bars and pubs closing in the worst-hit parts of England from Wednesday.

Johnson set out his plan for a three-tier system of Covid alert levels, set at medium, high, and very high, to simplify the imposition of lockdown measures.

The toughest measures will be brought into force from Wednesday in the Liverpool city region of north-west England, where the outbreak is spreading fastest, the Prime Minister told Parliament on Monday. Bars will only be able to open if they serve substantial meals, Johnson’s office said later.

Without preventive action, UK may face 50,000 Covid cases a day by October

As well as pubs and bars being forced to close, households in the Liverpool region will be banned from mixing indoors and in private gardens. People will also be advised against travelling into and out of the area, except for work, school or in transit.

Johnson said he wants similar restrictions to apply in Greater Manchester, where cases are also soaring, but indicated local leaders have not yet agreed.

Talks will continue with local leaders in the coming days and weeks, the premier said. He did not mention new restrictions in London, but the capital’s Evening Standard newspaper said it could be moved to the high, or second, level in the coming weeks.

Grim picture

Johnson immediately ran into criticism from his own side, including from Andy Street, the usually loyal mayor of the West Midlands, who said he is very disappointed his region has been placed in the high tier. He warned pubs and restaurants will be hit by a ban on households mixing.

Johnson said he is determined to avoid a second national lockdown, which would hit the economy and threaten the country’s ability to fund medical care and other public services. But he said the rising infection rates mean action must be taken immediately.

Earlier on Monday senior medical officials painted a grim picture of the resurgent outbreak, pointing to rising cases, hospital admissions and deaths, especially in northern England. Three so called Nightingale overspill hospitals are being put on standby to cope with an expected surge in admissions.

Elsewhere in Europe, several other nations are preparing additional steps to contain the virus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a cabinet-level meeting Monday, though there are unlikely to be any decisions on new measures until she meets with the premiers of the country’s 16 states on Wednesday.

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Published on October 13, 2020
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