Health Secretary set to announce a regional coronavirus traffic-light system

Robert Jenrick,Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “The national guidelines are simple to understand now – washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying apart, the ‘rule of six’.

“We have also adopted local restrictions and I appreciate that that can seem confusing particularly if you are not in one of those areas and are not able to look up the particular guidelines for your own locality.

“The idea behind a more tiered approach would be that there is a national playbook and you are able to move between one of these three tiers as the number of cases in a particular area grows.

“And that will create a degree of consistency and make it easier for people to familiarise themselves with the rules in their own area if they go on the watchlist or if they progress up into local restrictions.”

A Whitehall source said that while the restrictions for each band would be predetermined for the sake of clarity and transparency, the triggers for putting regions into the different bands would be less straightforward.

One source said: “It won’t simply be a case of putting an area into the amber or red zone if their infection rate per 100,000 people goes above a certain number.

“If, for instance, you are doing a lot more testing in a certain area you will find a lot more cases, so it wouldn’t be fair if those areas then had to suffer as a result.

“The trigger for going into the different bands will be a combination of the speed at which the spread is accelerating, the amount of testing being done, the positivity rate and so on. That is something that is still being worked on.

“But there will be a playbook that tells you what the restrictions will be in each band, so it will be a more straightforward system.”

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