New tier system in England replaces Covid-19 lockdown

A new tier system in England has replaced the recently-concluded month-long Covid-19 lockdown, as part of additional efforts by the UK government to further halt the spread of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the upcoming Christmas holidays.

British MPs on Tuesday approved the new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions designed to replace the month-long national lockdown that ended Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Shops will now be allowed to reopen across England, giving a Christmas bonanza to the struggling retail sector.

But all bars and restaurants in the toughest Tier Three areas will remain closed.

Around 55 million people in England are now either in Tier Two or Three areas, with restrictions on what they can do and where they can go.

In Tier Three areas, which covers the UK’s major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham and Sheffield, control measures have prompted fears in the licensing trade that hundreds of pubs, inns and taverns could close for good after being ordered to stay shut weeks before Christmas and New Year, traditionally the busiest time of the year for the hospitality and bar industry.

Meanwhile, in Tier Two cities like Liverpool, the first British city conducting mass testing for Covid-19, restaurants were allowed to open along with bars serving food on Wednesday.

“Liverpool over the past 10 to 15 years has seen its leisure and tourism industry grow, and it is that sector that has been decimated or badly affected by the virus. For that reason there remains a great deal of concern,” CEO of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Paul Cherpeau, told Xinhua news agency.

“The onus on us all in the city is to maintain, and even improve on the progress we have seen,” he said.

More than 402 km away from Liverpool, civic leaders in the Isle of Wight, one of the three areas of England in Tier One, said on Wednesday that they will still welcome visitors from Tier Two areas.

However, they should be adhering to Tier Two restrictions if they are coming, amid concerns that people may travel to the Island off the southern English coast to take advantage of looser coronavirus restrictions.

Under Tier One, people in the areas will be urged to work from home wherever possible.

In Tier Two areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals along with alcoholic drinks.

In Tier Three areas, all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through.

Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.