New Covid tier system comes into force in England

NEW Covid tier system comes into force in England.

England has returned to a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions after its second national lockdown ended. The new, tougher system, came into force on Wednesday after being approved by MPs in a Commons vote on Tuesday. The government has said the move will help “safeguard the gains made during the past month”- this is despite 55 Tories voting against PM Boris Johnson’s plan. Mr Johnson had urged MPs to support his proposals – even offering an additional £40m for some pubs in tiers two and three.

More than 99% of the population, 55 million, are in the strictest two tiers and cannot mix indoors with those in other households. The good news is that non-essential shops and other businesses, including personal care services such as hairdressers and beauty salons, can now reopen for the first time in four weeks.

As before when shops reopened following the first lockdown, many have implemented measures to limit the number of people entering shops. They are also enforcing social distancing rules, setting up hand sanitiser stations and carrying out more frequent deep cleaning. In a bid to liven up the capital’s West End, Westminster City Council will extend al fresco dining in central London for another six months.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said businesses were looking forward to welcoming back customers, with billions lost in sales during the lockdown, adding “every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job-protected and a local community supported”.

Pubs and restaurants are now allowed to reopen in tier one and two areas, although in tier two alcohol can only be served if accompanied with a “substantial meal”. The government has also announced that people living in care homes in England will be able to have visits from family and friends by Christmas if the visitors test negative for coronavirus.

On Wednesday, for the first time since March about 10,000 fans will be allowed into six games in the English Football League for the first time, other than a few pilot games. The new restrictions are tougher than the previous tier system, which was in place before the lockdown was introduced in November.

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Tony Winterburn

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