Tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to return when lockdown ends on December 2
- Credit: PA
England will exit the current national lockdown into a strengthened three tier system of local restrictions on December 2, Downing Street has said.
On Monday, the prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to reveal his “Covid winter plan”, which will detail the exit strategy for the second national lockdown.
In this, he will include details of how families can spend Christmas with their loved ones, along with a new three tier system.
According to the Daily Telegraph, several families could be allowed to join in one “bubble” and mix between December 22 and 28.
It is expected that while some tiers will have the same conditions as prior to the latest lockdown, other tiers will be strengthened.
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It is likely that this will see the lowest tier of restriction - under which Norfolk was previously operating - being the one strengthened, with Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England’s director advising the government’s coronavirus response saying earlier in the week that it had had “little effect” on infections rates.
Speaking on Monday, she said: “We see very little effect from tier one and I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone.”
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Once the PM announces the plan to parliament on Monday, ministers will set out what tier each geographical area is placed in before MPs vote on it on Thursday.
A No 10 spokesman said: “Everyone’s efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressures on the NHS.
“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.
“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS.”
According to latest figures, while cases have been on the rise in Norfolk, they remain lower than the national average.
In the seven days leading up to November 16, there were 1,243 cases of Covid-19 recorded across the county, with the region’s highest rate of infection being in South Norfolk, 195.9 cases per 100,000 people. The national rate for England over that period was 255.3,
Labour has so far been supportive of the need for restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19, and a full-scale Commons defeat on the plan is unlikely.
But shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, in a speech ahead of the Downing Street announcement, said the nation could not be allowed to return “to the shambles we had before this lockdown” in calling for “clarity” on economic support.
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.
“The previous system was failing - simply returning to it without other measures in place will not work.”