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PM facing rebellion as 99% of England placed in toughest coronavirus tiers

Written by on 27/11/2020

Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from his own MPs after it emerged that 99% of England’s population will fall under the two toughest coronavirus tiers when lockdown ends next week.

Several senior Conservatives have urged the government to publish analysis of the impact that these tightened rules will have on reducing infection rates – as well as the effect it will have on people’s livelihoods and the wider business community.

About 32 million people – covering 57.3% of England – will fall into Tier 2. But 23.3 million people – 41.5% of the population – are going to be placed in Tier 3 from 2 December.

Search your area on this map to find out which tier it has been placed in

Large parts of the Midlands, the North East and the North West will be subject to the severest measures. Hospitality venues will be closed in the run-up to Christmas unless they can provide takeaway or delivery services, and households are forbidden from mixing indoors.

But figures suggest that, of the 119 areas that will be in Tier 3 from next week, only eight have reported a rise in coronavirus cases.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, told the BBC: “By forcing so much of the country into those really tough restrictions, especially places where the rates of infection have been falling to much lower levels, I think the government has given itself a much harder job.”

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Reports in the Daily Mail suggest that up to 70 government backbenchers are prepared to rebel against the prime minister when MPs vote on the regulations next Monday.

And even though the tiers across England are scheduled to be reviewed on 16 December, The Times has reported that measures may not eased until the middle of January.

Infectious disease experts have said that tougher restrictions are needed before travel rules are relaxed from 23-27 December – covering the Christmas period.

The government has promised that it will publish an impact assessment of the measures before MPs vote on 1 December, amid concerns that the economic harm and knock-on health effects of the tier system have not been fully taken into account.

Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, said yesterday that the “authoritarianism at work is truly appalling”.

And Sir Roger Gale, MP for the Kent constituency of North Thanet, criticised the decision to place all of the county in Tier 3, telling Sky News he fears people will “skip over the boundary” to go to a nearby pub in Tier 2.

Image: Rules in place in England before and after the national lockdown

In a bid to soften the blow for Tier 3 areas, ministers are promising them access to rapid-result COVID-19 tests to help bring down infections, as well as cash subsidies.

Extra cash will also be on offer to areas placed into Tier 2 and Tier 3.

The health secretary said “these are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice”.

At a Downing Street briefing yesterday, Professor Chris Whitty said the latest Tier 2 measures will “hold the line” – meaning that the restrictions will likely stop infection rates rising, but may not contribute to them falling in a meaningful way.

“Tier 3 we think based on previous experiences is strong enough to pull things down from a higher peak,” he explained.

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Whitty ‘wouldn’t advise’ hugging elderly relatives

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned a “very high” number of people – one in 85 – currently have COVID-19 in England.

He added: “The tiers worked in terms of slowing but didn’t work in terms of flattening and reversing it.

“The national lockdown looks as if it has flattened it and is sending it downwards and it is important we do bring it down because numbers remain high.”

Just 1% of the population, 714,000 people, will be living under Tier 1 restrictions.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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