Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed a new three tier “alert system” to tackle coronavirus on Monday, but rejected a second national lockdown.
Mr Johnson said he did not believe it “would be the right course” to shut down the country again, pointing to the damage to the economy and children who would miss out on school.
At the other end of the spectrum, letting the virus “rip” would lead to an “intolerable death toll” and the NHS would be under such strain, medics wouldn’t be able to devote themselves to treating day-to-day conditions such as cancer.
“We must act to save lives, and the evidence shows in changing our behaviour… our actions are saving lives,” he said.
The new alert scheme will include the following:
- Medium – The majority of the country would be covered by the current national measures, including the Rule of Six and the 10pm curfew
- High – This would cover areas where interventions which are already in place. It will see mixing between different households or support bubbles stopped. The Rule of six will be expanded to apply outdoors as well as inside.
- Very High – This would apply where transmission is increasing at a pace where the NHS would be under “unbearable pressure”. It would see a complete ban on social mixing in both houses and private gardens and would see pubs and bars closed.
Mr Johnson confirmed during his announcement that Lincolnshire’s neighbours Nottinghamshire, which has seen a rapid increase in cases, would be put into the “high” level.
Greater Lincolnshire authorities were not mentioned as areas under special measures during the PM’s announcement — bosses have previously said it would remain an area of lowest measures.
Local authority leaders, however, have differed on their opinions of how Lincolnshire should be handled under the new rules — as a county, or as individual districts.
Lord Gary Porter, leader of South Holland District Council, said: “People don’t live, work or play at a county level, they do it in district, or in some cases sub district level.
“We won’t be able to credibly tell the residents of South Holland their liberty has to be further curtailed because the infection rate in the city [Lincoln] is going through the roof.”
However, highways executive at Lincolnshire County Council Councillor Richard Davies accused Councillor Porter of “turning the public health crisis into point scoring over local government simplification” — referring to the argument over devolution.
Earlier on Monday government scientists said there are more people in hospital now with coronavirus nationally than before lockdown in March.
They warned that the virus needed to be controlled further, claiming that that if measures were not in place “the death toll will be too high to bear”.