Boris Johnson imposed a four-week national lockdown in England last month, which is due to last from November 5 to December 2. The Prime Minister said the country will then return to the tier restrictions introduced at the start of October. This split the country up into different levels, ranging from a medium, high and very high coronavirus alert.
The lowest tier (medium) saw the continuation of existing rules, which included the ‘rule of six’ and the 10pm pub and restaurant curfew.
Tier 2 (high) applied to a swathe of areas, including London, Cumbria, Essex, Derbyshire, Surrey and Yorkshire.
The high level means socialising with anyone outside of your household or support bubble is illegal.
Areas with the highest rate of infection are characterised within Tier 3, the very high alert level.
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Tier 3 restrictions saw the closure of pubs and bars
This banned household mixing in any setting and saw the closure of pubs and bars.
In some Tier 3 areas, gyms and leisure facilities were also told to shut.
Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire were in the highest tier ahead of the national lockdown.
Ministers are currently reviewing whether the national lockdown needs to be extended beyond December 2.
Last night Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “too early” to say whether the lockdown would end as initially planned.
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He said: “At the moment most of the tests we are getting back, most of the positive cases, are from around the time when the lockdown came in, so it is too early to see in the data the impact of the second lockdown.
“But we absolutely hope to be able to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system similar to the one we had before.”
Any extension of lockdown would require a vote of Parliament.
Ministers are also reviewing the best course of action when the lockdown comes to an end.
Speaking this morning, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government will decide whether the current tier system went far enough, and suggested a new Tier 4 could be introduced.
London was in Tier 2 before the lockdown
The Government could decide to introduce a new Tier 4
He said: “We are reviewing the tiers, so that when the national measures come to an end on December 2, we’re able to move the country, we hope, back into the tiered structure.
“We will be looking at whether the measures that we had in the old tiers were effective.
“Remember they varied quite a bit of different parts of the country because in tier three, there was a baseline of measures which the chief medical officer and others had always said was only the beginning.
When asked about the introduction of a stricter ‘Tier 4’, Mr Jenrick said: “We haven’t come to a decision on that, but the tier three that we had before, was just considered a baseline.”
He suggested the new measures could be announced next week.
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Dr Susan Hopkins, a Government adviser who spoke at last night’s press conference, also suggested the tier system could become tougher as the lower tiers appeared to have limited effect in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
She said Tier 3 restrictions had proved fairly effective in reducing cases, but London saw more of a mixed picture.
The epidemiologist said Tier 2 restrictions in the capital “seems to hold in some areas and not so well in others”.
But on Tier 1, Dr Hopkins said: “We see very little effect.”
She predicted all tiers could be toughened to keep coronavirus suppressed as the country heads into winter.