New measures not enough to curb COVID-19 in England's worst-hit areas – top medic

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LONDON (Reuters) – Tougher restrictions announced on Monday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for areas of England classified as being at “very high” risk from COVID-19 will not be enough to control the outbreak there, the government’s top medic said.

Under the new three-tiered system, “very high” risk areas face pub closures and other restrictions on socialising.

Speaking at a televised news conference alongside Johnson, Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty urged local authorities in these so-called “tier-3 areas”, the worst-hit, to use their powers to introduce additional restrictions.

“I am not confident, and nor is anyone confident, that the tier 3 proposals … if we did the absolute base case and nothing more, would be enough to get on top of it,” Whitty said.

“And that is why there’s a lot of flexibility in the tier 3 level for local authorities, guided by their directors of public health, to go up that range so they can do significantly more than the absolute base,” he said.

So far, the city of Liverpool in northwest England and its surrounding area are the only part of England classified as “very high” risk or tier 3.

Other basic tier 3 restrictions include a ban on wedding receptions and the closure of indoor gyms, sports facilities, betting shops and casinos.

However, schools, cafes and restaurants remain open as do most workplaces, though where possible people are encouraged to work from home.

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