NOTE: The law referred to in this post was replaced from 5 November 2020. The post is retained here for record purposes.
On 12 October, the Prime Minister announced a new "three tier" system of Regulations aimed at preventing further spread of coronavirus which, according to government data, has already claimed 42,875 lives in the UK. On 12 October there were 13,972 new cases. See Hansard 12 October 2020. The rise in infection (in most areas) from late August has been considerable and it is reported that the government was urged by SAGE to impose a short "lockdown" a few weeks ago - BBC News 13 October.
The new Regulations were "made" by the Minister (Mr Hancock MP) on 12 October 2020 and are -
- Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) (England) Regulations 2020
- Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020
- Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020
The Medium Regulations - (Tier 1 restrictions) - applyto all areas of England except when a particular area is placed into a higher tier.
The Regulations require the Secretary of State to review them at specified intervals.
The Regulations expire after 6 months but, if necessary, new Regulations could be made.
The three tier system has not entirely simplified the web of legislation. This is because a number of earlier statutory instruments continue in force and are amended by the new legislation.
The new legislation was debated in the House of Commons on 13 October - see Hansard - and the Regulations were apporoved by 299 votes to 82.
The Regulations came into force on 14 October.
It remains to be seen whether the new Regulations will have a marked impact on the spread of the virus. Much will depend on the degree of public adherence to the new Regulations as well as other Regulations requiring face coverings when on public transport and in shops. The view that the new regime may be "too little too late" is reflected in the call by the Leader of the Opposition (Keir Starmer MP) for a "circuit breaker" national lockdown lasting 2 to 3 weeks - The Guardian 13 October and The Guardian 15 October - UK Doctors and Health experts back Covid-19 'circuit breaker'
Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland continue to have their own individual Regulations.
See BBC News - How many coronavirus cases are there in your area?
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control 16 September 2020.