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Boris calls emergency press conference to announce new ‘Covid Alert Levels’
October 12, 2020
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The Prime Minister will announce new steps to control the spread of coronavirus on Monday, Downing Street has confirmed.
Boris Johnson will first chair a meeting of the Government's emergency COBRA committee in the morning to hash out the final details of the new measures, which MPs will debate and vote on later in the week.
Later he'll make a statement to the House of Commons, before speaking directly to the nation in a televised address from No. 10, where he'll be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
For the first time, Downing Street has confirmed the creation of a new three-tiered system for England called the "Local Covid Alert Levels".
The country will be placed into "medium", "high" and "very high" alert levels.
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There's not yet been any indication which levels will be allocated to which areas of the country. The Government is still "working with local leaders" to determine which regions need the harshest restrictions.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "Our primary focus has always been 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."
The Local Covid Alert Levels system is intended to standardise the current mishmash network of local lockdowns in England so they're easier to understand.
At the moment, more than 50 areas in England are under a confusing array of different lockdown rules.
It comes as the UK grapples with a second wave of Covid-19 infections that could prove to be even worse than the initial outbreak in the spring.
The North of England has been hit particularly hard by the virus, and it's likely that most of the "very high" alert levels will apply to these regions.
It's understood Liverpool City Region will be entering Tier 3 this week, but it's still uncertain which other areas will be joining them.
A full list of tiers for each area of England should hopefully be announced around the time of the Prime Minister's statement.
Local authorities in badly-affected regions have clashed with Whitehall since details of the new system were leaked to the press last week, saying they'll need extra financial support from the Government in order to offset the massive economic toll of closing down pubs once again.
Over the weekend, senior No. 10 advisers and the Housing Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick held discussions with local authority leaders and mayors from these areas.
These discussions centred on how the Government can best work with local authorities to mobilise communities, volunteers and the public sector to help increase the effectiveness of the NHS Test and Trace system, which has been plagued by failures.