Some parts of England could have tiers downgraded before Christmas, minister says

Politics

Some parts of England could have their coronavirus restrictions eased before Christmas, a cabinet minister has told Sky News.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there was “every reason” to believe some areas could be moved down the COVID-19 tier system when there is a review in the middle of December.

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

“It is possible,” he said.

“There will be a review point in 14 days’ time, around December 16.

“At that point we – advised by the experts – will look at each local authority area and see whether there is potential to move down the tiers.

“There were a number of places which were quite finely balanced judgments where they were on the cusp of different tiers. Those are the places that are more likely to be in that position.”

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Mr Jenrick said a relaxation of restrictions over Christmas – which will see three households allowed to mix over five days – will likely “drive some higher rate of infection”.

“Our overall approach is trying to ensure the tiers hold the line and that places are in a process of de-escalation,” he continued.

“What we don’t want to do is ease up too quickly and then find that in January we are having to put tiers back in place again.

“But there is every reason to believe that places could see a change at December 16-17 time.”

Ahead of the end of the second national lockdown on 2 December, the allocation of the tiers was revealed on Thursday.

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Tougher tiers could continue into 2021

It was revealed that 99% of England’s population will fall under the two toughest tiers.

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.

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PM warns against complacency

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.

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Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of a revolt among Conservative MPs when the measures are put to a vote in the Commons next week.

According to a tally by Sky News, at least 48 Tory MPs have gone public with their concerns over tiering or have said they are unlikely to support the measures when it comes to a vote.

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