Three-tier lockdown in England could last until 'after Christmas', warns government minister

Ross McGuinness
·3 min read

Watch: Three-tier lockdown could last until ‘after Christmas’

England’s incoming three-tier lockdown could last until after Christmas, a government minister has said.

Boris Johnson is set to announce the new coronavirus restrictions for England on Monday.

The prime minister will give a speech to MPs in the House of Commons in the afternoon before addressing the nation about the changes in the evening, amid questions over whether the plan can drive down infections.

On Monday, culture secretary Oliver Dowden warned the new restrictions may be needed into the new year.

“If those measures are successful we hope to be able to take areas out of those high levels of restrictions,” he told Sky News.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says the new three-tier lockdown system could remain in place until into 2021. (Sky News)
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says the new three-tier lockdown system could remain in place until into 2021. (Sky News)

“The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control.

“Indeed, I hope it will be sooner than that.”

Under the new plans, areas of England are expected to be categorised as medium, high or very high risk, which will inform the level of intervention required.

The new COVID-19 restrictions are expected to hit areas of the North of England, where infection rates are high, particularly hard.

Tier one areas would continue with ongoing restrictions such as the “rule of six” and the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.

Tier two could mean a ban on households mixing indoors, while tier three is expected to result in the closure of pubs, bars, casinos and gyms, as well as a ban on non-essential travel.

In a separate interview on Monday with BBC Breakfast, Dowden said the prime minister would announce the "full detail" of the plan, adding: "The proper way to do this is to put all the information out there at once."

However, he revealed the "basic principle is that the country would be split into the three" tiers, adding that "the higher the levels of infection" an area had, "the higher the level of the category".

He added: "The point of doing this now is to ensure we get the disease under control.”

He said areas under the tightest new restrictions would only be able to exit from them after "getting the infection under control”.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dowden said local leaders in areas that are in the very high risk tier would be able to impose their own “appropriate restrictions”.

A worker spray cleans the Beatles statue in Liverpool. New coronavirus restrictions in Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will come into force on Saturday morning at one minute past midnight, Downing Street has said.
Liverpool could be one of the areas most affected by the government's imminent three-tier lockdown system. (PA)

He said there is a “higher risk” of contracting COVID-19 associated with hospitality venues.

Dowden said MPs would be given the opportunity to vote on the three-tier plan on Tuesday.

Steve Rotherham, metro mayor of Liverpool, where coronavirus infection rates are among the highest in England, told Today the new measures “are likely to be enacted on Wednesday”.

He said the new restrictions would be reviewed after a month.

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