Growing support for tougher Tier 4 and local circuit breaker lockdowns

Support appears to be growing for a tougher Tier 4 restrictions, with the Mayor of Liverpool – which is currently in Tier 3 – backing more robust restrictions ‘if necessary’.

Whitehall officials are reportedly discussing a fourth tier of restrictions – and local circuit breaker lockdowns – in regions where tier three restrictions have not been enough to bring the virus under control.

Current tier 3 measures demand the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve food, gyms, soft play centres and casinos.

Under the Tier 4 – or Tier 3-plus – restrictions reportedly being discussed, restaurants and non-essential retail such as clothes shops could also be forced to close.

The current Tier system does not allow for the closure of schools, so ‘local circuit breaker’ lockdowns are also reportedly being considered for areas tier 3 restrictions have failed to bring the virus under control.

A decision could be made by mid-November, when there will be enough data to assess how effective the three tier system has been, a Whitehall source told iNews.

Scotland has already published a five tier strategy to tackling coronavirus, with grades ranging from 0 to 4.

The Scottish Level 3 lockdown would see hospitality venues not allowed to serve alcohol indoors or outdoors, although food can be consumed on premises with potential time restrictions. Entertainment premises would be closed and people would be told to avoid public transport and there should be no travel outside of the area, unless essential. Additional protective measures could also be put in place for services such as hairdressers.

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Under the Scottish Level 4, restrictions would be much closer to full lockdown seen at the end of March.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government would “rule nothing out” on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve always said all along that we take nothing off the table.”

Now, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has backed the idea of a possible tougher coronavirus restrictions if Tier 3 measures do not go far enough to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Liverpool is one of five northern locations currently under the England’s strictest level of lockdown measures due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

But in an interview with BBC Breakfast, Mr Anderson, whose brother Bill was one of 61 people to die with the virus in the city in one week, said he is not opposed to the introduction of “tougher measures if necessary”.

He told the programme: “(The pandemic) has taken untold damage on people’s wellbeing and a huge toll on families where people have died.

“If anything was required to bring it down faster I would do that.

“However, I want to make sure that we are giving tier three a chance to see if the measures have an impact.”

He added he would review the results of the Tier 3 restrictions in 14 to 16 days’ time.

Mr Anderson’s comments come as a group of 50 Tory backbenchers representing northern constituencies have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to detail a “road-map out of lockdown” amid fears the pandemic is threatening his election pledge to “level-up” the country.

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Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said Tier 3 areas were subject to 28-day reviews and that bringing the virus under control was the route out of restrictions.

Mr Zahawi told LBC Radio: “There is some good news. I have to be very cautious about this… but what I would say if you look at the the data, where we are working really well together, the rate of increase has slowed down.

“It’s still too high, and we’ve got to continue to protect our hospitals, make sure that we save lives, protect the NHS and of course protect livelihoods and businesses, which is why this is a balancing act.”

He added: “It’s a choice between two harms – the harm of the virus and the harm to the economy and to livelihoods, which ultimately also leads to health harms as well.”