Boris Johnson sows more confusion as he urges people to ‘go to the CINEMA’ despite telling the nation to work from home as traffic light system designed to make local lockdowns easier to understand risks further chaos
- Ministers said to be working on new three-tier traffic light system for lockdowns
- Plan contains an Alert Level Three which will include closure of pubs and bars
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson today would not be drawn on the proposals
- But PM hinted shift is coming as he said he wants rules ‘as simple’ as possible
- PM also urged people to go to their local cinema despite work from home advice
Boris Johnson today urged people to visit their local cinemas despite telling the nation to work from home as he risked plunging the Government’s coronavirus guidance into further chaos.
The Prime Minister said he would ‘encourage people to go out to the cinema’ as he responded to the announcement by cinema chain Cineworld that it is temporarily closing its sites in both the UK and the US.
It came as the Government faces growing accusations that its rules are confusing as ministers consider introducing a three-tier traffic light system in a desperate bid to make local lockdowns easier to understand.
Mr Johnson did not deny reports this morning that the traffic light system is in the works as he said ministers want to make official advice ‘as simple as we can’.
The new system would see parts of the country given a green, yellow or red rating with those in the top tier potentially facing a ban on all household mixing and the closure of pubs and restaurants.
However, the emergence of the new system also risks adding to confusion because the proposed lockdown levels do not appear to tally with the existing three-tier risk levels used in the NHS Test and Trace app.
Boris Johnson, pictured in central London today, has urged people to go to the cinema as the Government faced fresh pressure over its coronavirus rules
The new three-tier system includes a Level Three ‘red’ alert which will include tough new restrictions – which almost parallel the complete lockdown measures imposed in March
Cineworld today announced it is temporarily shutting 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from this Thursday in the latest hammer blow for the British economy.
Mr Johnson today acknowledged there would be ‘tough times ahead’ in the jobs market following the Cineworld announcement as he encouraged people to go to the movies.
Speaking to reporters in central London he said: ‘Obviously we hope to reduce, to keep the numbers of people who lose their jobs down as much as we can, but clearly there are going to be tough times ahead.
‘That’s why we’ve already invested £190 billion in supporting jobs, livelihoods around the country.
‘Supporting local cinemas – I think we’ve already put £30 million in, but what I would say to people is that local cinemas do now have ways of making their shows go on in a Covid-secure way and I’d encourage people to go out to the cinema, enjoy themselves and support those businesses.’
The PM’s plea for more people to go to the cinema prompted immediate scrutiny, especially given the fact the Government is also urging workers to work from home if they are able to in order to stop the spread of the disease.
It emerged overnight that ministers are planning tough new ‘red alert’ lockdowns, with a leaked document suggesting all social contact outside homes could be banned under the most extreme part of a proposed ‘traffic-light-style’ system.
The new three-tier system plan includes an Alert Level Three with tough new restrictions – which almost parallel the complete lockdown measures imposed across the UK in March.
These include closing all hospitality and leisure business and banning contact with anyone outside a person’s household, regardless of the setting.
Non-professional sports will also be stopped – though places of worship will still be allowed to stay open – unlike in the original coronavirus lockdown when they were forced to close.
Mr Johnson did not confirm that a traffic light system is going to be introduced but he did hint that changes could be coming.
He said: ‘One of the difficulties in fighting the pandemic is you keep having to adjust the strokes you play, the shots you play, depending on where the virus is and the effect it’s having in different localities.
‘It’s certainly true, as Chris Whitty and others have said, that it seems more localised, this time than it was in March and April – that’s how it has been anyway.
‘And we will be taking steps as you can imagine constantly to keep guidance, keep advice as simple as we can.
‘When there’s more to say on that we will certainly be saying it, but for now it’s follow the local rules in the areas which are under special restrictions, get on the website to look at what you need to do, but generally it’s all the restrictions that you know.’
Approximately a quarter of the UK population is now living under some form of local lockdown restrictions amid fears it is increasingly difficult to know which rules are in place in which area.
It is thought the traffic light system, outlined in a leaked document seen by The Guardian, will only be imposed either nationally or in a specific area if the virus cannot be controlled by measures in Alert Level Two or if an area sees a ‘significant increase in transmission’.
Measures for ‘Alert Level Two’, amber in the traffic light system, include limiting social gatherings to people within a household and support bubble, while travel will be limited to essential purposes.
Alert Level Two will be triggered nationally or in a specific area when there has been a rise in infections and local measures cannot control it.
A further 28 people have died from coronavirus in Britain, preliminary figures show
The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the ‘glitch’ resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week.
Meanwhile Alert Level One, green, will include the measures that are already in place, such as the ‘rule of six’, the 10pm Covid curfew on hospitality businesses and the wearing of face masks in public places such as supermarkets and public transport.
According to the Guardian, A Whitehall source said the levels within the system were intended to be ‘minimum standards’ and that specific local circumstances in each area would also be taken into account.
A Government source told the paper that the plans were an ‘early draft’ and were still under consideration from ministers.
The prospect of a new traffic light lockdown system being introduced risks further confusion because the NHS Test and Trace app already uses a three tier system for grading risk.
The app has three levels – low, medium and high – which represent the coronavirus risk at a district by district level.
High risk means lockdown measures are likely in place in order to reduce transmission because of high levels of infection in a local area.
It is unclear whether the app will be brought in line with the new traffic light lockdown system, should the latter be implemented.
Any move by the Government to reimpose restrictions similar to those put in place in March is likely to spark a Tory revolt.
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, told the BBC’s Westminster Hour programme last night that patience is starting to ‘wear thin’ with existing restrictions.
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