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Coronavirus: England to introduce three-tier alert system

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Parts of England will be split into “medium”, “high”, or “very high” local Covid-19 alert areas under a new three-tier system prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday.

The classification of areas will determine what type of “appropriate interventions” are to be made to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes after Mr Johnson held a telephone conference with cabinet colleagues on Sunday to discuss the situation.

Downing Street said the government is working with local leaders to determine the areas to be covered by the very high alert level, and the measures needed in those places.

Mr Johnson will chair a top-level committee meeting on Monday on the issue “to determine the final interventions” he will then announce to parliament.

MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures later this week.

The prime minister will also hold a press conference in Downing Street with chancellor Rishi Sunak and the chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty on Monday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.

“We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.

“This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.”

Downing Street stressed the extent of discussions with local leaders over the weekend following criticism from some northern authorities and mayors that not enough consultation had been taking place since the crisis began.

Downing Street said that senior Number 10 advisers and communities secretary Robert Jenrick held discussions with local authority chiefs and mayors from “the highest areas of concern”. – PA

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