Covid-19: Strengthened tier system for England after lockdown

Henrietta Brewer
November 23, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for strict regional measures to combat COVID-19 after England's lockdown ends December 2, sparking a rebellion by members of his own party who say the move may do more harm than good.

Though it is likely that a much-criticized 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants will be altered, the tiers are likely to include tighter restrictions than when they were first used in October even as more communities are expected to be placed in the two highest virus alert categories. The Cabinet is to discuss the plans Sunday, and the prime minister aims to give Parliament the details on Monday, according to the statement.

Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the current lockdown meant areas with high infection rates were seeing the "tide turning".

Reports had circulated that the government would grant people a five day period of freedom over Christmas before presumably going into another lockdown situation in January, and reports today indicate this will be implemented with the light restriction of bubbles being limited to four families.

"That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS", the spokesperson explained.

"But the prime minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present - and without regional restrictions it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect".

The PM will be wary of a rebellion from backbench Tory MPs opposed to new restrictions.

The warning against measures inflicting "huge health and economic costs" came in a letter to the Prime Minister, which sources close to the group said had been signed by 70 Conservative MPs, though the only signatories identified were the group's leaders, former Brexit minister Steve Baker and ex-chief whip Mark Harper.

Labour has so far been supportive of the need for restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19, making a full-scale Commons defeat on the plan unlikely.

"To this end, government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so that MPs can assess responsibly the non-COVID health impact of restrictions, as well as the undoubted impact on livelihoods".

People should "keep up the pressure on this virus and push down on it as much as we can right to the end of the period (of lockdown)", he said.

A Labour spokesman said "we will look closely at any proposals the Government brings forward" but called for "proper packages of support" for businesses that are unable to fully reopen.

Some local measures will be the same as those in the previous three-tier system, which was in place in England until the current lockdown began.

Johnson's government has responsibility for health policy in England but devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland coordinate their own responses to the pandemic.

Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.

The number of deaths was down from 511 on Friday, and 462 on Saturday 14 November.

Other reports by iNewsToday