Boris Johnson is expected to warn that the UK is at a “critical juncture” in controlling the spread of coronavirus, as he prepares to unveil a new three-tier system of restriction rules across England.
The Prime Minister is set to address the nation tonight (October 12) after consulting with local leaders in some of the worst affected regions across the weekend.
He will confirm that areas in England will be graded in three tiers – medium, high and very high risk – as the virus continues to grow in north-West England, central Scotland and some areas of The Midlands.
Areas with relatively low infection levels will be placed in tier 1 – with restrictions such as the 10PM curfew on restaurants, the rule of six and existing rules on masks set to apply.
The second tier, meanwhile, will include bans on home visits and indoors socialising with other households in bars or restaurants.
But in the toughest tier of restrictions, which are set to apply to Manchester, Merseyside and Newcastle, bars and pubs will be forced to shut. It is claimed that restaurants will be allowed to remain open in tier three areas, but it is yet to be confirmed.
Mr Johnson is set to chair an emergency COBRA meeting on Monday morning, before updating parliament on the new rules at around 3.30pm.
He will then hold a televised news conferences with chancellor Rishi Sunak and chief medical officer Chris Whitty at 6PM.
While businesses in affected areas have voiced fears that new restrictions could force them to close for good, a Downing Street spokesperson told Sky News that Sunak’s expanded Jobs Support Scheme will “protect jobs and enable businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted”.
Under Sunak’s latest initiative, the government will cover two-thirds of staff wages at businesses that are forced to remain closed due to coronavirus.
Sunak said on Friday: “Throughout the crisis, the driving force of our economic policy has not changed. I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.
“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”