Lancashire will enter a Tier 3 alert from midnight, the government announced today, meaning an automatic tightening of restrictions on pubs and a clampdown on household mixing.
There will be no closure of gyms and leisure centres, which had sparked anger in nearby Liverpool.
Liverpool was the first region in England to go into a “very high” alert level, as part of the central government’s new measures to tackle the spread of the CCP virus.
The three-tier system announced on Monday creates a standardized national system, but will work in conjunction with additional locally-tailored measures.
In Lancashire, the Tier 3 measures will start from midnight, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said in an emailed statement, “following close discussions with local leaders.”
In addition to the standardized Tier 3 restrictions, further local restrictions have been agreed upon, according to the DHSC, including closure of the adult gaming industry, casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, and betting shops, along with soft play areas. Car boots sales are also banned.
The government says that Lancashire has one of the highest rates of infection in the country.
A support package worth £12 million will be provided as part of the agreement, according to the DHSC. Local council leader Geoff Driver told the BBC that there was an additional £30 million agreed to held businesses.
Test and trace will also be boosted in the region as part of the agreement, Driver said.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that an “unrelenting rise” in cases in the region had meant they had to act.
“I know how heavy these additional challenges will weigh on everyday life for the people of Lancashire, ” he said in the DHSC release, “but they are critical in bringing this virus under control.”
The government also wants to move Manchester into the Tier 3 measures but is wrestling with local leaders who oppose the measures and are demanding more financial support.”
Many in the hospitality industry have criticized the new system. The British Beer and Pub Association said that the latest decision was unfair and that pubs had been unfairly “singled out.”
“Public Health England figures released on Friday show hospitality was responsible for just 3 percent of total transmissions,” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said in a statement on Monday, following the announcement of the new measures. “Where is the merit in closing pubs to combat the virus based on that information?”
British brewery and pub operator Marston’s yesterday said it will axe one in seven jobs, saying recent restrictions smothered the industry’s already struggling bounce-back.
The Prime Minister is facing growing criticism over the three-tier alert system—by those who think it goes too far, not far enough, or lacks scientific rationale.
A Conservative MP yesterday resigned as a ministerial aide in a protest over the government’s lockdown policies, saying that the “attempted cure is worse than the disease.”
Meanwhile, the Labour leader Kier Starmer has called for the government to ditch the new system in favour of a “circuit breaker” lockdown.
A circuit breaker was recommended by the government’s official scientific advisers three weeks ago, according to minutes released on Monday, but the advice was ignored.