Pubs, bars, and restaurant could once again be ordered shut after Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed a new three tier “traffic light” system of local restrictions to tackle the COVID-19 second wave.
Speaking in parliament on Monday afternoon, the prime minister announced a new three tiered system of COVID-19 alert levels that he said would “Simplify and standardize” the existing patchwork of local lockdown rules.
The new rules will introduce a three-level system of restrictions to be imposed on different areas across the country. Each level — “medium,” “high,” and “very high” — involves escalating restrictions.
Under the “very high” alert level, pubs, bars, gyms, and other non-essential businesses will be ordered to close.
Most areas under current local lockdowns will automatically move to the “medium” alert level, the Prime Minister said. This will involve restrictions on households mixing and a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.
Johnson said he took “no pleasure whatsoever” announcing further restrictions on businesses but said the measures were necessary “to save lives”.
The new “traffic light” system of restrictions, as they have been dubbed, come in response to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in the UK. New cases have risen from around 800 per day at the start of August to over 14,000 today.
Johnson said he was taking a “balanced approach” that would involve “saving lives, protecting the NHS, while keeping our children in school and keeping the economy running”. Retail businesses will remain open at any alert level.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced support for businesses and staff hit by local lockdowns. Employees can access a localised version of the furlough scheme, while businesses ordered to shut can claim grants of up to £3,000 ($4,820).
Some business owners said the support would not be enough to stop businesses failing.
Jez Lamb, the founder of Merseyside-based online craft beer shop Beers @ No.42, said: “Striking the right balance is proving a nightmare and as things stand many more businesses will go to the wall and many more people will lose their jobs.”