A NEW three-tier strategy of local lockdown measures for England has been announced by Boris Johnson in efforts to curb rising Covid-19 rates.

The Prime Minister told the Commons on Monday (October 12) that this will “simplify and standardise” local lockdown rules.

The government has announced that in England, areas deemed to require additional precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus will be placed in one of three tiers of restrictions.

These go from tier 1, where the risk of coronavirus spread is described as medium, to tier 3, where the risk is described as very high.

Tier 2 currently affects a number of areas including swaths of the north-east, Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and parts of the Midlands including Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. London, most of Essex, York, north-east Derbyshire, Erewash, Chesterfield, Barrow-in-Furness and Elmbridge will move into this tier at midnight on Friday.

Somerset is currently at tier 1, medium level, in the new three tier system.

Here's everything you need to know about the new three tier system:

– What is the new system?

Different areas of England will be split up into medium, high and very high alert levels.

These three tiers represent an advancing scale of local lockdown restrictions with Tier 3 referring to areas in the “very high” category.

In these areas, social mixing will be banned both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars will be told to close unless they can operate as a restaurant.

Local leaders will help to determine whether other venues should be closed, such as gyms or casinos.

People will also be advised against travel in and out of these areas.

– What about areas placed in the medium or high categories?

Areas classed as “medium” will be subject to the same national measures which currently apply across the country.

These include the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.

Areas categorised as “high” will see household mixing banned indoors, although support bubbles will still be permitted, while the rule of six will continue to apply outdoors.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will move to this level.

– What does all this mean for people who shielded during the first wave of the pandemic?

The Government said none of the alert levels will automatically trigger a warning for those who shielded before to shield again and stay home at all times.

In the future, those living in Tier 3 areas could be advised to adopt formal shielding if necessary, but they would receive a letter setting out the precautions they should take.

– Can I get a pint if I’m in an area on “very high” alert?

Yes, but there’s a caveat. You can only be served alcohol as part of a meal, and packets of crisps or pork scratchings do not count.

The good news is that Cornish pasties are a viable option, provided they come with a side.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that as long as food items such as Cornish pasties came with a side of chips or salad and were served on a plate, to a table, they could be considered as “a normal meal”.

Outlining what constitutes a meal, the legislation refers to a “table meal”, which is one which might be expected to be served as “the main midday or main evening meal”, or as a main course at either of those meal times.

– Which areas have been placed under “very high” alert?

The Liverpool City Region faces the toughest local lockdown restrictions and will move into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday.

This includes the local authority districts of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, as well as the City of Liverpool.

– What has been said about the difference between the scientific advice and the Government’s actions?

On the political side, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The Government now needs to urgently explain why it ignored its own scientists and what it will be doing to get control of the virus.”

Sage scientist Professor Calum Semple warned the new restrictions announced by the PM had come too late and a “circuit-breaker” could be needed within weeks.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said he was “very confident” the measures being put in place would slow the virus but suggested tighter restrictions may be needed for regions in Tier 3.

Prof Whitty was among attendees at the September 21 Sage meeting which was held via Zoom.

– The three-tier system doesn’t apply to all of the UK, does it?

No. It does not. While England will be carved up into three tiers from Wednesday, the other three nations have yet to go down that road.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said England’s tiered system would “give an idea” of a similar scheme to be proposed in Scotland.

There are currently tighter restrictions in 16 areas of Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea and parts of North Wales, prohibiting people entering or leaving an area without a reasonable excuse such as work or education.

And in Northern Ireland, senior health officials have urged Stormont ministers to take “urgent and decisive” action to stem spiralling coronavirus infections.