Dominic Raab has refused to rule out a third national lockdown if there is another wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the new year.
The Secretary of State told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show that there was a “risk” of a third spike in case numbers “if we don’t get the balance right.”
He said, “But so far the R level is going down – that’s really important – and that’s why we’re starting with the tiered approach.”
But when asked if there would be another national lockdown if people don’t obey the rules, Mr Raab said, “We are doing everything we can to prevent that.”
The second national lockdown in England comes to an end on December 2.
It will be replaced by a system of levels with collection restrictions, restrictions for public events and strict rules for pubs, restaurants and cafes.
But the rules will be lifted from December 23 to December 27 to allow families to celebrate Christmas – with indoor gatherings, mixed households and more than six people allowed in one place.
Experts have warned that this could trigger another wave of coronavirus in January – the month when the NHS is always busiest due to winter pressures.
A vaccine could be rolled out in December, but the government has warned that, at best, we won’t see enough people vaccinated to make a difference until Easter.
Tier rules remain in effect until February and can be extended until the end of March.