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UK PM Johnson imposes further curbs, closes pubs in Merseyside

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says three tiers of restrictions are aimed at preventing another national lockdown

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday imposed a tiered system of further restrictions on parts of England including closing some pubs as the Covid-19 outbreak accelerates, though anger is rising at the cost of the curtailment of freedoms.

Mr Johnson's three-tier system, announced in parliament, is an attempt to standardise a patchwork of often complicated and confusing restrictions imposed across England. Lawmakers will vote on the move.

He said the medium level, which will cover most of the country, consists of current national measures - including the rule of six (meeting of six people or less) and the 10pm curfew.

The high level, he said, aims to reduce household-to-household transmission by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles, indoors.

Most areas already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level.

The lockdowns will include shutting pubs and bars in areas placed in the "very high" alert level.

So far, Merseyside is the only area yet in that category and there gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close, Mr Johnson said.

The Liverpool City Region will be on the "very high" Covid alert level from tomorrow, he said.

'BLEAK MATHEMATICS'

"We must act to save lives," he told parliament, adding that he did not want another national lockdown.

"If we let the virus rip, then the bleak mathematics dictate that we would suffer not only an intolerable death toll from Covid, but we would put such a huge strain on our NHS with an uncontrolled second spike that our doctors and nurses would simply be unable to devote themselves to other treatments."

Health officials say the freshest data showed infections were rising across the north of England and in some more southerly areas while the virus was creeping up age bands towards the elderly from those aged 16-29 years.

Manchester intensive care consultant Jane Eddleston said 30 per cent of critical care beds were taken up with Covid-19 patients - starting to impact on healthcare for others.

The daily number of new cases in the United Kingdom rose to 13,972 yesterday, compared with 12,872 the day before, government data showed.

The daily number of deaths was 50, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus to 42,875.

"Pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate," England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam told reporters.

"The epidemic, this time, has clearly picked up pace in the north of England earlier than it did in the first wave."

The "Nightingale" emergency field hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been told to mobilise, NHS England's Medical Director Steve Powis said. - REUTERS

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