AFTER three weeks of lockdown, the country is preparing for another new set of coronavirus restrictions.

Cheshire East and West boroughs will be placed into one of three tiers today, November 26, with the new rules coming into effect next Wednesday.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of today’s big announcement.

What is being announced today?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that England would head into another three-tier system following the end of the second national lockdown next week.

Knutsford Guardian:

Today, the Government will confirm which areas will sit in which of the three tiers, meaning Cheshire’s boroughs will learn exactly what restrictions they will follow.

Last time the tiers were in place, both boroughs were in the ‘high alert’ Tier 2, while Cheshire neighbours Warrington and Halton were in ‘very high alert’ Tier 3.

However, this time round the rules will be much tougher in both of those tiers, with a number of businesses set to remain closed if they are in a Tier 3 area.

A number of factors are being considered which will determine the tier each area is placed into, including their infection rates and how under-pressure their local NHS is.

What are the rules proposed for each tier?

Shops, salons, gyms and churches will all be open in all three tiers, along with schools, colleges and universities, but everyone is advised to work from home if they can.

Tier 1 ‘medium alert’ areas will have the most relaxed restrictions, with the ‘rule of six’ applying indoors or outdoors, and overnight stays permitted.

In these areas, hotels and restaurants will be open as normal, and bars can serve drinks without a substantial meal before 10pm ‘last orders’ and closing time one hour later.

Knutsford Guardian:

In Tier 2 ‘high alert’ areas, bars can only serve alcohol with a substantial meal, and no mixing of households is allowed indoors except for support bubbles.

In Tier 3 ‘very high alert’ areas, indoor entertainment venues will be closed, along with hotels, bars and restaurants – except those doing take-away and delivery.

In all areas, weddings, civil partnerships and wakes can take place with 15 guests, while 30 guests are allowed for funerals – but no wedding receptions will be permitted in Tier 3 areas.

Sporting events can also now take place in front of spectators, with a maximum of 4,000 people outdoors in Tier 1 and 2,000 in Tier 2, but none in Tier 3.

Residents in Tier 2 and 3 areas are advised to avoid travelling outside their own local area.

There will be exemptions to the new restrictions, for example for care for children or vulnerable adults, seeing someone who is terminally ill, or to access support services.

What are the infection rates in Cheshire now?

Both Cheshire East and West boroughs have seen their rates come tumbling down over the past week as lockdown is beginning to have a positive impact.

However, both boroughs saw their infection rates rise to new heights last week, meaning the numbers are still around a similar level to six weeks ago – when the second wave gathered pace.

The latest figures from Public Health England cover the seven-day period up to November 20.

Knutsford Guardian:

In Cheshire West, including Northwich and Winsford, the rate is now 208.1 per 100,000 people, following 714 cases during that week.

The rate has fallen for six days running and is much lower now than the figure of 306.9 per 100,000 people one week earlier.

Meanwhile in Cheshire East, including Knutsford and Middlewich, the rate now stands at 169.7 per 100,000 people following 652 cases in the week up to November 20.

That compares to a figure of 239.7 per 100,000 people one week earlier, and it is the third day running that the rate has fallen.

What is the situation in hospitals?

According to the latest figures for the north west published on Wednesday evening, there were 2,746 patients in hospital, including 229 on ventilation.

Latest figures for Cheshire’s hospitals were published last week.

There were 99 Covid patients being cared for at the Countess of Chester’s sites, 61 at Mid Cheshire Hospitals including Leighton, and 45 at East Cheshire NHS Trust sites including Macclesfield Hospital.

Knutsford Guardian:

Sadly, 255 of Mid Cheshire Hospitals’ Covid patients have died, including 13 in the past week – while at the Countess, 272 Covid patients have died, including 11 in the past week.

East Cheshire NHS Trust has also seen 168 of its Covid patients sadly die from the disease, last reporting two deaths on Saturday, November 21.

What do Cheshire’s council leaders say about the new measures?

Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, is expecting the borough to be in Tier 2 again – and wants support from Government if the area is in a higher tier.

She said: “We’ve seen some good progress over recent days. Our residents and businesses have taken action, which will save lives and livelihoods.

“But we must all continue our efforts to reduce the infection rate. We want to get the rate down further and be at the lower end of restrictions, but this will only happen if we stay the course.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Louise Gittins, deputy leader of CWAC cabinet member for communities and wellbeing

“I understand we will not be consulted on which tier we will be in, but if Government decide to place us in a higher tier of restrictions after December 2 we want this to be for a short period as possible with the maximum support to our residents and businesses.

“I particularly want to see our hospitality sector fully supported and I hope that Government can work with us to make this happen.”

Cllr Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, also discussed the new measures in a Twitter video this week – welcoming the reopening of places of worship and leisure centres, as well as guidance in all tiers for people to walk or cycle where possible.

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