Last reviewed 16 October 2020

As we reported earlier this week, a new three-level system of Covid restrictions will apply in England from 14 October (see Tougher Covid restrictions with more details to come).

The three options are medium, high and very high with more details now available of which parts of the country will fall into the three categories.

As the Prime Minister said in his statement, most of the country will be classified as medium and initially only Liverpool City Region will be in the very high category. As well as Liverpool itself, the region includes Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens and Halton.

Here, pubs and bars will be closed (except where serving “substantial” meals), as will gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos while households must not mix either indoors or outdoors.

With effect from 17 October, all parts of Lancashire (including Blackpool, Chorley, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Fylde, Lancaster, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Wyre) will move into the very high category.

Following discussions with local leaders in Lancashire, it was agreed that, from Monday 19 October, the adult gaming industry, casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers and betting shops, and soft play areas must close while car boot sales will not be permitted.

With the exception, of the above areas, that leaves those classified as high level where, as well as applying the rule of six, pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 22:00 and there must be no mixing between different households indoors.

The areas falling into this category are:

  • North East: Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland

  • Tees Valley: Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Hartlepool

  • North West: Cheshire, Greater Manchester (which includes Bolton, Wigan and Oldham), Warrington and, with effect from 17 October, Barrow-in-Furness

  • Derbyshire: High Peak and, with effect from 17 October, Erewash, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire

  • South Yorkshire: Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield

  • West Yorkshire: Leeds. Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield

  • North Yorkshire: York (with effect from 17 October)

  • Midlands: Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester and Oadby and Wigston

  • South East: (with effect from 17 October) London, Essex (other than Thurrock and Southend) and Elmbridge.

“Areas within the very high alert category will,” Mr Johnson said, “be reviewed every four weeks and nowhere will be shut down indefinitely. And the exact restrictions at this level, very high, will be worked out with local leaders, along with tailored packages of support.”

A postcode checker available at shows which alert level applies in each area and the NHS Covid-19 app will also direct people to this information.


The Government has also confirmed that shielding is not to be re-instated in “very high areas”. Current guidance is that those who were previously told to shield should “go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible”. They are also not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they stay at home but are unable to work from there.

Employers are therefore being advised to consider temporarily changing the employee’s role to allow them to work from home. If this is not possible, they could consider letting them work within an alternative role, or changing their working patterns, to reduce contact with others.