There are fears the Government is planning to introduce even tougher coronavirus restrictions for England.
A tier review is planned tomorrow but health secretary Matt Hancock announced a number of areas would be plunged into tier four several days early on Boxing Day.
It comes as the UK has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks – yesterday recording its highest number of positive tests since the start of the pandemic.
The number of patients with the virus in hospitals in England has now surpassed that of the first wave and there are fears the NHS could struggle as emergency Nightingale hospitals remain empty.
With this in mind it seems likely the country is heading towards tougher restrictions at the review tomorrow – with many speculating a ‘tier five’ is on the cards.
A statement on the Government website reads: ‘The next formal review of tiering decisions will take place by December 30.
‘The government keeps the data under constant review and will take immediate action to protect local communities.’
Although there has not yet been any mention of a ‘tier five’ by Government officials, scientific advisors have warned tier four – the current highest level of restrictions – doesn’t go far enough.
And after the three-tier system was suddenly changed to a four-tier system, a potential fifth tier isn’t off the cards.
Tier four measures have banned all socialising except with one other household outdoors, with non-essential shops closed and stay at home orders. A potential ‘tier five’ would go even further.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) scientists has urged the Government to implement stricter measures, Politico reports.
It suggested measures similar to the second national lockdown would not go far enough and instead recommended keeping non-essential shops shut and schools closed like in the first national lockdown.
It is possible these ideas could form the basis of a tier five, although following insistence schools will remain open ministers may instead decide to put the whole of England into tier four to try and curb the spread of infection.
Michael Gove yesterday would not rule out putting the whole of the country into tier four.
The latest data shows a total of 282 (90%) out of 315 local areas in England saw a hike in infection rates in the week to December 23.
Essex, which is currently in tier four, is still the worst affected. Brentwood has the highest rates in the country, recording 1,111 new cases – the equivalent of 1,442.5 cases per 100,000 people.
But with cases jumping by 57% in the past week, several more areas with high case rates – including some in tier two areas – could now be at risk of being put straight under tier four rules.
Areas with soaring infection rates which could be moved into tier four include Eden in Cumbria, Burnley and Pendle in Lancashire, and Wolverhampton and Hartlepool.
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