PM to announce new Covid alert levels for England with Merseyside set for toughest restrictions

Video report by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston

The prime minister is giving an update in the House of Commons on what the new Covid alert levels for England will be and what they will consist of.

The new three tier system will see the country carved up into “medium”, “high”, or “very high” local coronavirus alert areas.

ITV News understands Merseyside will be the first area to be placed in the "very high" category, although negotiations are still ongoing over financial support.

Watch in full: Boris Johnson updates the Commons

Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Sunderland and other areas in the north-east will be placed into Tier Two.

However, leaders in northern England have expressed anger at the impact of the anticipated measures, warning they could "shatter" local economies and calling for more funding.

On Sunday night's News At Ten, Political Correspondent Paul Brand gave details on what can be expected from the new measures

On average, coronavirus rates are higher in the North and Midlands, than in the south of England.

The classification of areas will determine what type of “appropriate interventions” are to be made in them to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said Tier Three will likely see pubs and restaurants closed, as well as bans on households mixing and advice against people travelling out of the area.

He understands Tier One restrictions will consist of the "Rule of Six" and the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, while Tier Two bans hosting others in your home or garden.

While the new system is intended to simplify restrictions across England, ITV News understands the top tier could vary by area, with local leaders haggling over issues such as bans on leaving the region, the limits on socialising, and whether pubs and restaurants should be closed.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said an area's tier designation will depend of what the coronavirus infection rate is there.

The move comes after the prime minister held a telephone conference with Cabinet colleagues on Sunday to discuss the situation.

People out socialising in Liverpool city centre. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Images

Downing Street said the government is working with local leaders to determine the areas to be covered by the very high alert level, and the measures needed in those places.

Mr Johnson chaired a top level Cobra committee meeting Monday on the issue “to determine the final interventions” he will then announce to Parliament.

MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures later this week.

Later in the day, the PM will make a televised address to the nation, alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Oliver Dowden explains how the tier system will work:

Also on Monday, England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam will give a "public data briefing" alongside representatives from the NHS.

On Sunday, Prof Van Tam warned the country is at a tipping point similar to the first wave of coronavirus and that measures must be taken to prevent history repeating itself.

Merseyside is likely to be the first area to have Tier Three restrictions imposed on it.

Latest figures suggest Liverpool has almost 600 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people.

Nottingham continues to have the highest rate in England, with 2,763 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 8 – the equivalent of 830.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Political Correspondent Paul Brand reported that pubs, gyms, casinos and betting shops in Merseyside will likely be closed and the tougher restrictions could be in place for six months.

He added that restaurants will likely be allowed to remain open, an agreement likely come to between local leaders and the government.

The new measures will be renewed monthly.

Coronavirus cases in the UK have been rising in recent weeks. Credit: PA graphics

Late on Sunday night Liverpool City Region issued a statement accepting the restrictings, saying: “We agree and share the grave concerns with regard to the increasing pressure on our hospitals."

However, they said talks were continuing about extra financial support, with local leaders calling for those out of work to get the same compensation as the original furlough scheme of 80%, not the 67% announced by the government on Friday.

On Friday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government will pay two-thirds of wages for workers who are legally unable to attend their jobs due to lockdown restrictions.

Yet many leaders in the north of England, say more needs to be pledged to employees who cannot work.

Number 10 said that the prime minister spoke to Mr Rotheram on Sunday and "they discussed the huge challenge from rising numbers of Covid cases in the region and pledged to work together on combatting the virus".

Paul Brand also believes the north-east, which was suggested could face tougher measures in Tier Three, will be placed in to Tier Two.

ITV News understands Manchester, which likewise feared being placed in to Tier Three, may not face the toughest measures.

Boris Johnson will update the nation on tougher coronavirus measures in England, on Monday. Credit: PA

As of Sunday, the seven-day average in the city was 477.7 cases per 100,000, compared to 530.5 one week ago. The figures are based on Press Association calculations of Public Health England data.

A Manchester MP told ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt they believe the area will avoid top-level restrictions.

They said there is "broad cross-party consensus” against the most severe of measures and “the evidence doesn’t support closing hospitality".

It comes after Manchester MPs wrote to the prime minister, arguing against a tier three lockdown.

They said data “would not seem to support a rationale” for closing pubs and restaurants, as a large proportion of the spread is among students and in private homes.

"Transmission in hospitality settings, as you know, constitutes a very small proportion of infection rates," they write.

Earlier on Sunday, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese told ITV News he is resisting the closure of pubs and hospitality in the city, as "the government has not been given any evidence" the closure will make a difference to infection rates.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces the government will pay two thirds of the wages of staff businesses forced to close under new restrictions. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Images

"The evidence we have is particularly for our younger population, and Manchester, has a very young population, if you close bars and restaurants, they'll just find other ways of meeting," Sir Richard said.

Late on Sunday night, Lancashire County Council tweeted to say they too were engaged in negotiations with the government over tougher restrictions.

A Downing Street spokesperson said tougher restrictions were being brought in "to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

“We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

“This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.”