In his address to the Commons on Monday 12 October, prime minister Boris Johnson outlined the new three-tiered scheme, though said the exact criteria will not be worked out until Tuesday, eventually coming into effect on Wednesday (October 14).
The PM confirmed there are now more people being treated for coronavirus in hospitals than during March, when the national lockdown was implemented.
Despite this, he said he did not want the country to go into another lockdown, saying it would have devastating consequences for the economy.
Herefordshire & Worcestershire have been placed at ‘Medium’ Level which in short means that we must follow the rule of six, keep washing our hands, wear face coverings, work from home where we can and keep our distance to keep the two counties and wider country safe.
“The number of cases has quadrupled in the last three weeks and there are more people in hospital now than in March.
“There are those who believe we should go into a second national lockdown of indefinite length, but I do not believe that is the right course of action.
“There are also those who say the patience of the public is expended, and that we should stand aside and let the virus run its course.
“I understand the emotions and frustrations of those who have been chafing under the restrictions, but if we were to take that step, not only would there be an intolerable death toll, we would put so much strain on the NHS that the doctors and nurses would not be able to treat patients for cancer, heart disease and other conditions.”
The prime minister went on to explain the new three-tier system, saying there will be different levels which local authorities will be placed in depending on their infection rates.
Under the new system, most local authorities will go into the “medium” tier, which will consist of the current lockdown measures including the rule of six and 10pm closing times for pubs and restaurants.
The next level up will be “high” and will include most areas which are currently subject to local lockdown restrictions.
Mr Johnson said areas where the number of cases rises the most rapidly will be put into the “very high” tier.
In this tier, restrictions on social mixing will be imposed, as well as closing pubs and restaurants.
Schools, workplaces and shops will remain open in this case, according to Mr Johnson.
During this time, chancellor Rishi Sunak’s jobs support scheme will be continued.
He added: “This is not how we want to live our lives, but this is the line we have to tread.
“The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country. I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.”
Sharon Smith, CEO of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce said:
“We acknowledge what a difficult time its been for many businesses in the County and we know there may be more uncertainty and challenges ahead. We are however, confident that the business community will continue to respond, adapt and diversify, staying stronger together and keeping each other safe, by complying to all the latest legislation and guidance.”