Exclusive: government documents suggest potential pub closures and stricter social contact rules
A new three-tier lockdown system is being planned for England, with leaked government documents paving the way for potential harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside of household groups.
The draft traffic-light-style plan, seen by the Guardian, is designed to simplify the current patchwork of localised restrictions, which apply to about a quarter of the UK. It also reveals tougher measures that could be imposed by the government locally or nationally if Covid cases are not brought under control.
On Sunday the number of cases jumped by 22,961 after it emerged that more than 15,000 test results had not previously been transferred on to computer systems, including for contact tracers.
Called the “Covid-19 Proposed Social Distancing Framework” and dated 30 September, it has not yet been signed off by No 10 and measures could still be watered down.
Alert level 3 – the most serious – contains tougher measures than any seen so far in local lockdowns since the start of the pandemic. They include:
- Closure of hospitality and leisure businesses.
- No social contact outside your household in any setting.
- Restrictions on overnight stays away from home.
- No organised non-professional sports permitted or other communal hobby groups and activities, such as social clubs in community centres.
- Places of worship can remain open.
Schools are not mentioned in the draft. A government source said this was because Boris Johnson had made clear that classroom closures would be a last resort and the reopening of schools was considered within Whitehall to have been a relative success.
Any attempts to impose more stringent measures are expected to provoke renewed anger among Conservative backbenchers, who are likely to demand a vote in parliament should they come into force.
A government source said the measures in the draft document, particularly those under alert level 3, had not been finalised and the document still needed to be approved by ministers in the Covid-operations committee and by the prime minister.