Dominic Raab hints Government considering Tier Four coronavirus curbs

Dominic Raab says Government is ‘ready’ for TIER FOUR COVID restrictions and hints UK could follow France and Germany into total lockdown – as Birmingham is poised to plunge into Tier Three and country edges toward full shutdown ‘by proxy’

  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today insisted Government is sticking with its localised lockdown approach
  • But he did not deny ministers are considering introducing a new Tier Four level of even harsher restrictions
  • Also refused to rule out another national lockdown as he suggested UK could follow Germany and France
  • New Tier Four could see non-essential shops closed and travel limited but schools and workplaces still open
  • Came amid growing fears the the country will end up in a national lockdown ‘by proxy’ before Christmas 

Dominic Raab today hinted the Government could introduce a new Tier Four set of even stricter coronavirus restrictions as he refused to rule out a national lockdown. 

The Government’s current local lockdown system is based on three tiers but there are fears that even the most draconian rules in Tier Three are not enough to stop the spread of the disease. 

A new Tier Four could see non-essential shops told to close and travel limited to getting to work and school. 

Mr Raab said the Government is ‘always ready for further measures’ as he insisted ministers intend to stick to their localised approach of cracking down on infections. 

But the Foreign Secretary admitted that both Germany and France had also used a strategy of local crackdowns before ultimately being forced into new nation shutdowns. 

He would only go so far as saying the Government is ‘striving to avoid’ following the UK’s European neighbours as he resisted imposing a ‘blanket approach or a blunt approach’. 

His comments came as local leaders warned it is ‘inevitable’ that Birmingham will soon be moved into Tier Three as ministers warned the nation is heading for a national lockdown ‘by proxy’. 

Some 21 million people across England will soon be living in areas subject to Tier Two restrictions while 11 million will be in Tier Three, which means some 32 million – almost 60 per cent of the population – will be in the higher tiers. 

As well as Birmingham there are growing fears that London could also be plunged into Tier Three within thenext two weeks as infections in the capital continue to rise. 

West Yorkshire will be placed into Tier Three from midnight on Sunday, as 2.3 million people across Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield will join the eight million in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and Nottibghamshire already under the strictest curbs.

Ministers were said to have been shown ‘very, very bleak’ data this week which experts believe could result in the whole country being in Tier Three by Christmas.       

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, today did not deny that ministers are considering introducing a new Tier Four of coronavirus restrictions 

London ‘will go into Tier 3 lockdown in two weeks’ as Britain faces a super-spreader Christmas

London could be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown within two weeks as England creeped closer towards full national lockdown by the back door last night, with millions told they will face extra curbs.    

Boris Johnson is facing renewed pressure from his medical officers to impose a nation-wide shutdown before and after Christmas in a bid to allow families to gather over the holidays, and sources close so Sadiq Khan expect the capital to be locked down imminently.

Senior figures are warning that the UK’s three-tier system is not enough to ‘get on top of the numbers’, with deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly beginning to change his mind over whether regional lockdowns will suppress the virus . He backed the move at a No 10 press conference last week

Presenting what one source called ‘very, very bleak’ data to a meeting of Covid-O, the the Cabinet subcommittee on coronavirus, he said that daily hospital admissions had reached the highest level since April at 1,404.  

There are fears that the whole country will be at Tier 3 by Christmas, and unable to meet extended family members unless the Government takes harsh, draconian action before the season.

Allowing people to visit family at Christmas will be a ‘spreader event’ that could cause a spike in infections many times worse than that caused by the return of university students, experts believe. 

But introducing national restrictions before and after Christmas, while lifting them for the big day could help minimise the impact. 

One senior health official told the Telegraph that anti-Covid measures were most likely to be successful if they were taken on a national basis rather than toughening up the rules for Tier 3. 

They added that a post-Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could also help reverse numbers and curb rising numbers of hospitalisations as fears spread that Britain’s ICUs could be overrun.

‘Releasing measures for two days is unlikely to cause a big upswing,’ a source said.’ But it won’t do nothing. Christmas brings people from all over the country to sit inside together, so its quite likely to be a spreading event.

‘But people want to see their loved ones and they want to make physical contact, and we have to recognise that.’ 

The latest coronavirus developments came as: 

  • Mr Raab said the public would find it ‘desperately unfair’ to impose a national lockdown while rates of infection vary across the country. 
  • Nottinghamshire Police said 40 young people are facing fines after a party was broken up at a student hall of residence. 
  • It emerged that Britain’s biggest lenders charged the Government more than £65 million in interest in just three months to provide loans to British businesses during the pandemic. 
  • British Airways’ parent company IAG swung to a pre-tax loss of 6.2 billion euros (£5.6 billion) for the nine months to the end of September, compared with a 2.3 billion euros (£2.1 billion) pre-tax profit during the same period a year ago.
  • Official statistics suggested nearly one in every 13 UK workers was still on furlough in mid-October as the scheme ends this weekend. 

Tier Three restrictions mean pubs and bars have to close unless they are serving substantial meals while the mixing of households indoors or outdoors, including in gardens, is also banned. 

But some experts are sceptical that the top tier is enough to get the spread of coronavirus back under control amid growing calls for tougher action. 

The Government is reportedly considering introducing a new Tier Four of restrictions which would approach the measures imposed during the national lockdown. 

Mr Raab this morning did not deny that is the case as he told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘We are always ready for further measures that we can take but I think the most important thing about further measures is we continue on the track that we are on of targeting the virus.

‘The difference between now and the first lockdown is we are in a much better place to really focus on where the virus is the greatest and I think that is right, not only in scientific and virus management terms, I think in terms of the way people feel about tackling the virus it is fair, it fits the natural justice that we are focusing on the areas where the uptick is the greatest and we are not taking a one-size-fits-all approach or a blanket approach or a blunt approach.’

Mr Raab said the Government wanted to avoid the ‘arbitrariness of a blanket approach’ as he claimed the public favour targeted restrictions. 

However, he did not rule out eventually having to impose a national lockdown after France and Germany made the move earlier this week. 

He said: ‘You mention France. France of course tried a localised approach and then fell back on the national approach.

‘What I think that shows you, Germany is the same, is how important it is that we all rally together at local level through to national level, communities, local leaders, national leaders, and really lean in to the localised focused approach.

‘That is the most effective way to tackle the virus and avoid the blanket approach which I don’t think would be in the best interests of this country and which we are striving to avoid.’

Mr Raab said it is ‘crucially important’ to ‘carry the public with us’ and that he believed the Government’s tiered approach is the best way to do that. 

Hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients surged by 33 per cent in just seven days, official data reveals.

The biggest spike was recorded in the South of England, amid warnings the spread of infections is gathering steam in the region. Admissions jumped by 53 per cent in the South East.

There were 6,661 infected patients sent to hospitals in England in the week ending October 25, compared to 5,009 new admissions the week before. The number of patients hooked up to mechanical ventilators also rose 25 per cent in the same time frame, jumping from 3,298 to 4,122.

It can take Covid patients several weeks to fall severely ill and need NHS treatment, meaning the consequences of spikes in cases are only just beginning to be felt. 

It comes after the Government was warned by officials yesterday that space in all hospitals – including Nightingales – could run out on December 17, unless further action is taken to curb the rising tide of infections.

The warning will pile more pressure on Boris Johnson to act, and comes after SAGE projected the second wave could be deadlier than the first and lead to 85,000 deaths.

‘Carrying the public with us is crucially important and the longer this pandemic goes on, every country is experiencing the same thing, the more challenging it is,’ he said. 

‘But the best means of carrying the public with us is that they understand intuitively, even if it feels difficult in their area or whether it is on the business side or the domestic side, that they know we are targeting the virus where it is the greatest threat.’

Mr Raab’s comments came as local leaders said it is ‘inevitable’ that Tier Three restrictions will soon be imposed on Birmingham. 

Many areas in the East and West Midlands are currently in Tier Two but Councillor Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, said yesterday a move to Tier Three is on the cards even if it is not ‘imminent’. 

He said: ‘Given the rising case rate and other factors, a move to Tier Three would seem to be inevitable at some stage and I’m talking to the other met (council) leaders, MPs and public health officials on a daily basis as we put our asks together for moving into Tier Three.

‘That’s because we want the Government to work with us to protect lives, jobs and the economy.

‘We don’t want imposition without negotiation. But I have certainly not said that we are going into Tier Three imminently. That’s not currently the case.’  

Health experts are warning that the UK’s three tier system is not enough to ‘get on top of the numbers’, with deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly beginning to change his mind over whether regional lockdowns will suppress the virus. He backed the move at a Number 10 press conference last week.

Presenting what one source called ‘very, very bleak’ data to a meeting of Covid-O, the Cabinet subcommittee on coronavirus, Mr Van Tam said that daily hospital admissions had now reached the highest level since April at 1,404.  

There are fears that the whole country will be at Tier Three by Christmas, scuppering family get togethers, unless urgent action is taken now. 

Experts believe that allowing people to visit family at Christmas will be a ‘spreading event’ that could cause a spike in infections many times worse than that caused by the return of university students to campuses earlier this year. 

Boris Johnson is facing renewed pressure from his medical officers to impose a nation-wide shutdown before and after Christmas in a bid to allow families to gather over the holidays

London could be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown within two weeks as England creeped closer towards full national lockdown by the back door last night, with millions told they will face extra curbs

More than TWO MILLION workers were STILL on furlough by mid-October

Nearly one in every 13 workers in the UK may have been on furlough as of mid-October, just weeks before the Government support scheme comes to an end this weekend.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed 7.5% of the workforce was receiving support from the Government between October 5 and 18, which would be equivalent to more than two million people.

The figures are experimental and based on reports from trading businesses who responded to an ONS survey.

This is a sharp fall from June 1 to 14, when 29.5% of the country’s workers were benefitting from the scheme, while the number of jobs furloughed peaked at 8.9 million in early May.

Between March and August the Government covered 80% of the salaries of all employees who had been furloughed, with no cost to the employer under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

But from the beginning of September, employers had to step in to cover 10% of the funding, up to a maximum of £312.50 a month. In October, this employer contribution doubled.

The furlough scheme will be replaced with the less generous Job Support Scheme on November 1, and will cover employees doing 20% of their usual work who will receive at least 73% of their usual pay. 

But some believe that introducing national restrictions before and after Christmas, while lifting them for the big day, could help minimise the impact. 

One senior health official told the Telegraph that anti-Covid measures were most likely to be successful if they were taken on a national basis rather than toughening up the rules for Tier Three. 

They added that a post-Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could also help reverse numbers and curb rising numbers of hospitalisations as fears spread that Britain’s ICUs could be overrun.

‘Releasing measures for two days is unlikely to cause a big upswing,’ a source said.

‘But it won’t do nothing. Christmas brings people from all over the country to sit inside together, so its quite likely to be a spreading event.

‘But people want to see their loved ones and they want to make physical contact, and we have to recognise that.’ 

Almost 60 per cent of the population – around 32.6 million – will be under stricter rules by Monday, and it is thought London could be moved into the top tier in two weeks unless infection rates drop significantly.

Sixteen areas will move into the ‘high risk’ Tier Two at midnight including Oxford, Luton, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston Upon Hull, Derbyshire Dales, Derby and Staffordshire

That means that more than 21.6 million face the restrictions that include a ban on socialising indoors with anyone from another household, whether at home or in bars, restaurants and cafes.

It comes after SAGE piled fresh pressure on the Prime Minister to impose tougher restrictions as it warned up to 85,000 people could die in a second wave. 

A ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ put forward by SAGE suggested daily deaths could remain above 500 for three months or more until March next year.

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