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19.10.2020 Europe

Britain steps up anti-Covid restrictions, leaves 'circuit-breaker' lockdown on option

By Sabina Castelfranco - RFI
Britain steps up anti-Covid restrictions, leaves 'circuit-breaker' lockdown on option
LISTEN OCT 19, 2020

As the coronavirus crisis continues in Britain, and the number of people infected with Covid-19 rises by the day, authorities are looking into what other measures should be taken at local levels to avoid another national lockdown.

Tighter lockdowns are being considered for London and northern parts of England, including Manchester and parts of Lancashire. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had called for greater lockdown enforcement as 11 boroughs of the capital are witnessing more than 100 news cases every week per 100,000 people.

The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week introduced a 3-tier system to determine the risk level of the different areas in the country. Depending on the level of infection, every area falls into one of three categories - medium (Tier One), high (Tier Two) or very high (Tier Three).

Experts have said that that the new restrictions implemented using the tier would not be enough to control the outbreak, particularly in high risk areas, and that further restrictions should be put in place. But there is also much concern about the economic and social costs of these lockdowns.

London is being moved into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions at midnight on Friday which means people will not be allowed to meet socially with others who they do not live with indoors including private homes, as well as pubs or restaurants, which will be closed after 10 pm.

UK Minister of State for Health Helen Whateley made the announcement to parliament on Thursday morning.

Currently the city of Liverpool in northwest England and its surrounding area are the only part of England classified as “very high” risk or Tier 3. 

As well as pub and restaurant closures and restrictions on socialising, other Tier 3 restrictions include a ban on wedding receptions and the closure of indoor gyms, sports facilities, betting shops and casinos.

Liverpool has been recording close to 600 new daily infections per 100,000 people. Authorities are concerned that hospitals may soon not be able to deal with the influx.

Northern Ireland is implementing what is being referred to as a “circuit-breaker”. Starting from 16 October, schools will close for a two-week extended half-term break and other restrictions have been introduced for four weeks, including the closure of pubs and restaurants, hairdressers and beauticians, but not takeaways and deliveries.

Only a maximum of 10 people from two households will be able to meet. Other restrictions have been placed on weddings and funerals which are limited to 25 people and other events which must be limited to 15 people. No indoor or contact sport will be permitted but gyms will stay open only for individual exercise.

Wales meanwhile is planning to ban visitors from areas in the UK with high infection rates.

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