Millions will be ordered not to leave their local areas in new Covid clampdown
Pubs and bars are expected to close in areas with the toughest restrictions, which will include Liverpool - Peter Byrne / PA
Millions of people are being asked not to travel outside of their area and may be banned from mingling with other households, including outdoors, amid fears that some hospitals in the Northwest could be overwhelmed within days.
This weekend, Downing Street briefed Mayors and Council Presidents on the planned three-stage "Local Covid Alert Levels" restriction system for England, which is expected to be announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he spoke to number 10 about classifying the city to the third tier - with the toughest restrictions - amid increasing concerns about the number of cases and the capacity of intensive care units in hospitals in the area .
The conversations included discussions of deals that would give local executives more autonomy in action and testing in their area in exchange for helping them enforce and explain the rules.
The plans for the third "very high" level are guidelines in which residents are asked to travel outside their area only for specific reasons, such as work or education. Local mayors said they expected pubs and bars in these areas to close as restaurants could stay open until 10 p.m.
In phone calls with local executives, Boris Johnson staff also pointed out that areas classified in tier three could face bans for multiple households, either mixing indoors or outdoors.
Separately, Downing Street is inviting executives whose areas are to be in the "very high" level to request the closure of certain types of hospitality or recreational facilities, including beauty salons and sports centers.
This came after it was acknowledged that the government had not done enough to obtain a "local buy-in" for some of the existing restrictions facing areas with high infection rates in the northeast and northwest.
As part of the plans, the government reserves the right to order local closings if necessary. However, mayors and council presidents have been told that ministers want them to "help shape" restrictions to ensure that the new rules are approved on the ground and that they can help explain them to residents.
In other developments:
The government could tighten the powers available to the councils to order the closure of businesses that violate Covid-19 rules after Manchester City Council declared it should be able to vacate premises within 24 hours to close if they do not comply with the improvement instructions.
The local councils expect a stronger role in local contact tracing as well as more autonomy in locating local test units.
It found that coronavirus rates in university towns are over 40 percent higher than in the rest of the UK, with infections in some student areas increasing up to 38 times since freshmen week.
Ministers plan to add a South Korea-inspired layer of "backward" contact tracing to the effectiveness of NHS Test and Trace to identify "super spreader" events.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has reportedly been banned from several high-level meetings related to Covid-19 due to concerns about leaks from Whitehall. A health ministry source said it was "completely wrong to assume that the health minister was absent from key meetings".
Traditional Boxing Day hunting meetings across England and Wales have been canceled due to concerns that they will attract crowds of spectators.
Under the "Local Covid Alert Levels" system, all areas of the country would be classified as "medium", "high" or "very high" in a "traffic light" approach. Liverpool are expected to be the first to enter the third division. Discussions are ongoing with leading companies in Greater Manchester and Lancashire, where infection rates are also of great concern.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who has been in regular contact with Mr Hancock, believes that additional restrictions in the capital are now very likely. In practice this would mean that London would be placed in the "high" category.
Large parts of northern England are already facing a number of additional restrictions on social life, including a ban on indoor mixing of different households. However, the south has largely withdrawn from pubs and restaurants from more stringent measures than the national "rule of six" and the curfew at 10 pm.
On Saturday, North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said, "It is noteworthy that the whole country was on lockdown at the beginning when the cases were worst in London. Now that the cases are worst." In the north we get a completely different answer. "
The three-tier system is designed to clarify the patchwork of rules for England that has evolved since infection rates rose again last month. However, the proposal to allow local executives to request hospitality and leisure closings in their areas would result in a less uniform system than expected.
The talks on Saturday, led by Sir Edward Lister, key strategic advisor to Mr. Johnson, came after Mr. Anderson said, "The main point in introducing the measures is clearly that - imposition. We have not been consulted."
Amid discussions about local leaders who play a bigger role, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said, "We believe that much stronger enforcement powers are needed.
"I'm talking about summarizing closure powers for premises that aren't Covid-safe. And I'm not just talking about pubs or restaurants - I'm talking about shops or other environments where the proper procedures are not in place."
On Friday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government would fund 67 percent of the wages of employees who work for companies that are forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In an open letter, however, the heads of state and government of the north wrote: "Earlier this year the government set their national vacation program at 80 percent. We can see no valid reason why the local vacation program should be set at 67 percent. To this end to accept." Treating hospitality businesses as second class citizens and we think that is wrong. "
Meanwhile, epidemiologists have questioned the decision to charge football fans £ 15 per game to watch Premier League games on TV, fearing it could lead fans to congregate in pubs.
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