Downing Street is reportedly considering a third lockdown in England after Christmas, after more regions were added into Tier 3, putting two-thirds of the country under the harshest of coronavirus restrictions.
Wales has announced a third lockdown, while Northern Ireland goes into shutdown the day after Christmas, Boxing Day.
When asked if England would follow suit, a Downing Street spokesman told The Telegraph that while the current three-tier regional system was “designed to reduce the rate of transmission”, the government “will obviously keep the latest data and the latest trends under review”.
Government scientists and health bodies have been pressuring Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel Britons’ five days of Christmas freedom, saying that the period of relaxation would mean going into lockdown for almost the whole of January.
A government source, however, told the newspaper that “There won’t be a third national lockdown.”
On Thursday night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that more counties would go into the top tier, Tier 3, putting the whole of the Home Counties — that surround Greater London — into the red zone.
From Saturday, 68.2 per cent of England, by population, will be under the harshest restrictions, which includes limitations such as not being allowed to socialise indoors or in most outdoor places with anyone they do not live with.
WHO Tells Europeans to Wear Masks at Family Christmas Parties https://t.co/etQ7khR6VU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 18, 2020
Currently, in Tier 3, hospitality venues like pubs must close unless they can operate as a takeaway, but other retailers, personal care services, outdoor sports facilities, and places of worship may remain open.
However, The Times reports that Mr Hancock is believed to be considering additional restrictions, including forcing supposedly ‘non-essential’ shops to close and ordering people to stay at home — essentially, as the Daily Mail dubbed it: a Tier 4.
“There is a case for going further than Tier 3 and it is getting stronger. [That could mean] closure of non-essential retail; stay-at-home orders. That would have to be actively considered in conversation with the local authority,” a Whitehall official told The Times.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, also announced the extension of the furlough scheme until April, signalling that restrictions will be in place until well into the Spring of 2021.
While many parts of England will be moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 on Saturday, just three regions found their tier downgraded. Bristol and North Somerset will go from Tier 3 to Tier 2, which Herefordshire will join the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, and Cornwall in Tier 1, move down from Tier 2.
Just over 904,000 Englishmen, or 1.6 per cent of the population, are in Tier 1 areas.
Corona Passports: Ireland Considers Giving Vaccine Certificate Holders Extra Freedoms https://t.co/9DTl2hg5Y5
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 17, 2020