Coronavirus tier system set to be different after lockdown, minister says

Ministers are reviewing the pre-lockdown system and could bring in tougher restrictions

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 17 November 2020 10:32 GMT
The UK is currently in lockdown, with restaurants only open for takeaway
The UK is currently in lockdown, with restaurants only open for takeaway (Angela Christofilou)

The government is reviewing its coronavirus alert tiering system for England and could change it when it returns after lockdown, a cabinet minister has said.

Robert Jenrick said the government would like to see "greater consistency" in the post-lockdown coronavirus tier system and would examine whether previous tiers were effective.

He said a revised system, if one is necessary, would be decided "within the next week or so", giving people time to plan for December.

England is currently in a national lockdown, but Boris Johnson has pledged that the country will return to a tiered system on 2 December when the current measures are scheduled to lapse.

But there were concerns that the first and possibly second tier of restrictions in the old system were ineffective at controlling the virus, with fallbacks in infections only reliably observed in the toughest, tier three areas.

A toughening of the system could see indoor socialising banned in the lowest tier ahead of Christmas. Ministers are keen to keep the infection rate low for the festive season to potentially allow families to see each other.

"We will be looking at whether the measures that we had in the old tiers were effective," Communities secretary Mr Jenrick told on Tuesday morning.

"Remember, they varied quite a bit in different parts of the country, because in Tier 3 there was a baseline of measures, which the chief medical officer and others have always said was only the beginning, and we then asked local areas to consider whether they would be willing to go further than that, some did, some decided not to.

"So I think in the new tiers we'd like greater consistency and we'll have to look at the evidence to see which of those measures was actually the most impactful on the virus so that we take the most evidence-based approach that we can do.

"We haven't come to a conclusion on that yet, to be perfectly honest, but we will be within the next week or so."

It comes as Scotland waits to see whether its toughest Tier Four restrictions will be imposed on the west of Scotland amid a rise in infections. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the measure is "likely" but not inevitable giving "stubbornly high" rates of Covid-19.

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