SOMERSET is on 'medium' level alert after a rise in cases of Covid-19 across the country.

On Monday (October 12), the Government unveiled a new alert system - and associated restrictions - aimed at reducing the rate of infections across the country.

Somerset is current on the lowest level of alert - medium - yet confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in the county.

What does that mean?

A medium level alert means a certain number of restrictions remain in place for the county.

They are:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of 6 is followed

The Prime Minister launched the three-tier system of local alert levels for England on Monday, with the Liverpool city region placed in the most serious “very high” risk category from Wednesday.

Yeovil Express:

Later, addressing a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said cases nationally had gone up four times in four weeks, there are more Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals than on March 23 when the country went into lockdown, and deaths are rising.

“These figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet and we must act now,” he said but stressed he was taking a “moderate” and “balanced” approach to saving lives while trying to protect the economy.

Mr Johnson said he did not want another national lockdown but did not rule one out either, adding he would not impose such “extreme” measures “right now”.

The PM also pledged that “no one affected by this will be left to fend for themselves”, with the Government having previously announced new financial assistance.

“No one, least of all me, wants to impose these kinds of restrictions, erosions of our personal liberty, but I’m convinced as I’ve ever been that the British people have the resolve to beat this virus and that together we will do just that,” Mr Johnson said.

However, the announcement has been put under fresh scrutiny after it emerged, just hours later, that the Prime Minister rejected recommendations from his scientific advisers for a “circuit-breaker” lockdown.

Official papers showed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggested introducing a national lockdown in September lasting between two and three weeks to halt the rapid spread of the virus, with the Government’s failure to act on the advice branded “alarming” by Labour.

Downing Street insisted that “robust but targeted and proportionate” action had been taken in September, including the rule of six and the 10pm hospitality curfew.

But the Sage document, dated September 21, said a package of interventions was needed to reverse the “exponential” rise in cases.

Yeovil Express:

INFORMATION: Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Prime Minister Boris Johnson during yesterday's media briefing

The paper set out a shortlist of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that should be considered for “immediate” introduction, also suggesting that all university teaching should be online unless face-to-face teaching was “absolutely essential” at a time when students were starting or returning to university.

Top of the list was a short period of lockdown known as a circuit-breaker “to return incidence to low levels”, followed by advice to work from home for all those who can.

Third on the list was “banning all contact within the home with members of other households (except members of a support bubble)”, and fourth was the closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms, and personal services such as hairdressers.

The final measure was that all university and college teaching has “to be online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential”.

Attendees of the September 21 meeting, held on Zoom, included the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.