London: Stephen Barclay grilled over Tier 3 lockdown
Tiered restrictions emerged in the UK once more this month after the country exited blanketed restrictions on December 2. Ministers reinstated the system in England to employ resources regionally rather than nationally, given the variation in local caseloads. Localities could move up or down the three tiers every two weeks, and the first evaluation date is fast approaching.
Which areas are moving from the Tier 3 list?
Officials put most parts of England on tier 3 after December 2, due in part to the relatively brief national lockdown.
The lockdown saw countrywide measures return once more, but for a much shorter duration from November to December.
As such, regions didn’t have the same amount of time to make significant headway in reducing their caseload, but they have since had opportunities to do so.
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Several of the worst-effected areas have now reduced their local infection rates and could move down a tier.
The first review date falls tomorrow, on December 16, but officials have not yet revealed an exhaustive list as to which regions will move down.
Liverpool was first to move down a tier when the national restrictions lifted, going from tier 3 beforehand to tier 2.
Several city and local leaders have since argued their regions should move down a tier as well.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who made headlines earlier this year after pushing back on the Government’s tier 3 measures, has insisted his city is ready to move down.
Bradford council has made a similar case, as has MP Hillary Benn for his constituency in Leeds Central.
Cases have declined in these areas and more and could end up enough for a move to lighter measures.
But ministers have given no guarantee yet, although they have confirmed areas can move down a tier if deemed worthy.
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Health secretary Matt Hancock addressed the country in a Downing Street press conference yesterday, where he opened up on the parameters for moving through the system.
When facing questions from the press, the minister touched on what would need to happen for regions to move before Christmas.
He cited Liverpool as an example leaders should follow when approaching review.
Mr Hancock said: “Of course you’ve got to take into account that Christmas is coming up.”
“But, nevertheless, with the case rates coming down as they are – coming down by almost third in the last week – then we will be absolutely looking at each area and seeing what is the right tier for that area.
“I want to see areas that have pulled together, followed the rules, got the case rate down – like Liverpool has over the last month, which has led to it going into Tier 2 – I want to see that happening more broadly.”
Not every region stands a chance of moving down, as case rates continue to rise in several areas, notably London.
The capital will move into Tier three from the evaluation date tomorrow, with the strictest measures introduced for at least another two weeks until the next review date.
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