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Tier system may have to be ‘strengthened’

Published:  17 November, 2020

A senior health official has warned that to get England “through the winter”, the regional tiered system of measures may have to be “strengthened”. 

Speaking at the government’s evening coronavirus briefing yesterday, public Health England's Dr Susan Hopkins said they needed to look at what “tiers there may be in the future” when the lockdown ends. 

The Tier system, she added, had shown a “different effect” in each region, saying that while the Tier 3 rules had led to a decline in cases in the north west, Tier 2 “seems to hold in some areas and not others” and “we see very little effect from Tier 1". 

“When we look at what tiers there will be in future, we will have to think about strengthening them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone,” said Hopkins, who is also a member of the government’s scientific advisory group (Sage).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock meanwhile said that while its was too early to tell how effective the lockdown has been, he hoped the national lockdown would be replaced with “a tiered system similar to what we had before”. 

The key to knowing if the four-week lockdown in England was working was "if cases fall" and they expect to know that in the next week, added Hopkins.

"As long as we see cases decline we can make judgments... about opening up," she said.

Further information on what the lockdown replacement regime will involve will be set out next week, with a spokesperson for the PM having said: "Those measures will be coming to an end 2 December. They will expire in law. We are committed to setting out next week what the replacement regime will be. That will be a return to the localised approach, and we are actively working on those plans at the moment."  

The Scottish government meanwhile is in the process of deciding whether to place some areas under its highest level (Tier 4) of restrictions, with areas considered including Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

Under level four, all hospitality and non-essential shops would have to close.