Health Secretary warns new tiered system will be in place 'for months'

The new coronavirus controls introduced in England today will remain in effect for months, warned Matt Hancock.

The health secretary warned that the restrictions will be in effect for “the next few months” until a vaccine is widely available.

A Commons vote on Tuesday approved the new rules enforcing the new tiered system.

But after an uprising by 55 Tory MPs, he said ministers would consider relaxing controls in areas with lower contamination rates when the regulations come up for review in two weeks.

Mr Hancock said it is essential to maintain controls until a comprehensive vaccination program comes in the new year.

“The rules we passed by a significant majority in the House of Commons last night will be in effect for the next few months,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today program.

“But you can now see with confidence that things will get better from spring onwards.

“Between now and then we have to keep our nerves in check, we have to hold on to our determination. We can see dawn in the distance, but we have to keep going until morning. “

Mr Hancock said the government would consider allowing more localized measures when the rules for the first bi-weekly review come out on December 16.

“Where appropriate, we will,” he said.

“We’ll look at the country where the levels apply according to epidemiology, according to the human geographic areas where people live and work, because that’s how the virus is transmitted.”

Under the new rules, it is illegal to mix homes in levels 2 and 3 indoors and there are strict controls on hospitality.

That includes 99 percent of the population in England.

Level 3 pubs and restaurants must remain closed, except for takeaways and deliveries.

Those in Level 2 can only serve alcohol with a “hearty” meal.

After confusion among ministers as to whether a Scottish egg counted, Mr Hancock urged people not to “push the limits” on what was and was not allowed.

“A hearty meal is well established in hospitality,” he told Sky News.

“Of course, a Scottish egg served as a hearty meal is a hearty meal.

“What we should do is not try to push the boundaries, we should all take responsibility for our own actions.”

The government won the vote on Tuesday evening by 291 to 78 – a majority of 213 – after Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer ordered his MPs to abstain.

Still, the Tory uprising is the biggest since Boris Johnson hit number 10 last year.

Many backbenchers are known to be deeply unhappy that their areas remain under tight control.

When asked by the Prime Minister, Mr. Johnson insisted that the government was doing everything it could to protect jobs.

He welcomed regulatory approval of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK, but said restrictions would still be needed during the “harsh winter months.”

“It is very important that the package of moderate but tough measures that Parliament voted for last night, the tiering system, is followed across the country, because it will continue to beat the virus,” he told MPs.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has warned Labor to demand a new vote unless the government publishes a detailed sector-by-sector analysis of the impact of the restrictions on the economy.

In The Times he wrote, “I don’t want to go down that road, but I’m willing to do it in the national interest.”

Former cabinet ministers Damian Green, David Davis and Jeremy Wright were among the Tories who voted against the government, as was conservative former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

A total of 15 Labor MPs also defied party orders and voted against the regulations, including allies of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who also voted against the measures as an independent party.