Boris Johnson announces pub and gym closures for Liverpool City Region

121020 Hospitality venues across Liverpool City Region will close from Wednesday October 14 PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement in the House of Commons in London, setting out a new three-tier system of controls for coronavirus in England. Credit: PA

Liverpool City Region faces the toughest local lockdown restrictions in England after being placed on a "very high" alert level.

Boris Johnson announced the closure of pubs and bars across Merseyside as he battled to gain control over the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister warned there are more people in hospital with coronavirus than when the country first went into lockdown and that deaths are rising.

Making a statement in the Commons, the Prime Minister said: "This morning, the deputy chief medical officer set out the stark reality of the second wave of this virus.

"The number of cases has quadrupled in the last three weeks, there are now more people in hospital with Covid than when we went into lockdown on March 23 and deaths are already rising." 

Boris Johnson making a statement in the House of Commons setting out a new three-tier system of controls for coronavirus in England. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson confirmed England will be placed into "medium", "high" and "very high" alert levels under the new restrictions.

What are the new three-tier local restrictions?

The medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.

The high alert level reflects interventions in many areas subject to local restrictions, preventing mixing between different households indoors.

The very high alert level will mean, at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens.

Areas in the top tier will be able to impose extra restrictions.

Schools, non-essential retail and universities will remain open in all levels.

What does the 'very high' alert level mean for Liverpool City Region?

The restrictions are for the boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton and Halton.

From Wednesday, October 14, social mixing indoors and in private gardens will be prohibited.Pubs, gyms, leisure centres, casinos, betting shops and bars will be forced to close unless they can operate as a restaurant where they can serve a 'substantial meal' i.e. a lunchtime or evening meal and alcohol may only be served as part of this meal.

People will also be advised against travel in and out of the areas other than for things such as work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.

Wedding receptions are not allowed.

Pubs will be allowed to stay open if they're able to serve a 'substantial meal' such a lunchtime or evening meal. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson said there will be a four-week "sunset clause" for interventions in very high areas.

He said: "We will also keep these measures under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause for interventions in very high areas."

"A postcode search on Gov.UK as well as the NHS Covid-19 app will show which local alert level applies in each area and we're also publishing updated guidance to explain what the Covid alert levels mean for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

"And while these levels specifically apply to England, we continue to work closely with the devolved administrations to tackle this virus across the whole United Kingdom."

What has the reaction been from local leaders and MPs across the Liverpool City Region?

In a Joint statement, the Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the Liverpool City Region’s six local authorities said they shared the "Government's grave concerns about the increasing pressure on our hospitals" but said "we want to be clear that there are some things upon which we have been able to agree with the Government, but others where we do not, such as the level of the furlough scheme."

The full statement can be read here.

Wirral South Labour MP Alison McGovern described the Government's approach as "whack-a-mole gone wrong".

Wallasey Labour MP Angela Eagle said financial support from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak had so far been 'woefully inadequate' as she said 'you cannot have local lockdowns on the cheap.'

Labour former minister Sir George Howarth asked whether a test, trace and isolate taskforce could be set up for the Liverpool City region.

The MP for Knowsley said: "The Prime Minister is aware that if we are to tackle these horrendous rises in Covid-19 in the Liverpool City region, we need a much more effective track, trace and isolate system, but we haven't got one yet.

"Will he accept my suggestion that we establish a Liverpool City region test, trace and isolate taskforce including the NHS, local authorities, the metro mayor and other stakeholders to report by the end of this week with suggestions as to how the unused NHS capacity that exists could be used more effectively so that we have a proper test, trace and isolate system in place?"

Boris Johnson responded: "I can tell (Sir George) that we're already working with the Liverpool City region on improving local test and trace and I think his suggestion is very apt and I'm sure it is one that will be taken forward in the course of those conversations."

Areas outside of the Liverpool City Region: Lancashire, Warrington, Greater Manchester, Cheshire West and Chester have all been put under the second "high alert" tier of the government's new guidelines system.