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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make a Commons statement on Monday, as rumours mount that his government is drawing up plans for a controversial three-tiered lockdown system across the UK.
Under the rumoured plans, areas with the highest Covid infection rates would be placed under much more stringent lockdown measures, while areas where the spread was better contained would be able to live more freely.
Pressure has grown on Number 10 to take action to curb rising coronavirus rates in the north of England since Nicola Sturgeon took much sterner action in Scotland – closing pubs early and restricting alcohol sales.
It is already rumoured the cities such as Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool will be placed under much harsher restrictions on Monday after recent spikes there.
The tiered system had previously been due to be unveiled last week but any measures are now only expected from Monday.
According to reports, 'tier one' will be the current national restrictions including the rule of six and 10pm pub curfew.
Tier two would include a ban on households meeting, as already exists in local lockdowns. And tier three would go further than current local lockdowns by shutting hospitality.
Coronavirus 'getting out of control' with lockdown to last 'another six months'
Tier three could apply to major hotspots in the north of England where the virus is surging.
No10 insisted on Wednesday it would "not hesitate" to act.
But plans to announce the simplified three-tier local lockdown system were delayed. Critics would say the government is "hesitating" right now.
One Whitehall source admitted to the Mirror: "The data for the North in particular is increasingly concerning."
And a Downing Street source told The Sun: "The numbers are going the wrong way, and there will come a point very soon where we simply have to do more."
- Boris Johnson
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