Local experts will get a say when Lancashire's tier three status is reviewed next month, Prime Minister confirms

Boris Johnson has warned there will be “disastrous consequences” for the NHS without the introduction of new tiered coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week.

By Paul Berentzen
Sunday, 29th November 2020, 10:25 am
Updated Sunday, 29th November 2020, 10:28 am

The Prime Minister, who faces a Commons showdown with his own MPs over the stringent measures, urged the nation to “work together” with tiering, testing and vaccines.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he stressed that it was too early to relax restrictions, but said he believed Easter would mark a “real chance to return to something like life as normal”.

Faced with a revolt from members of his own party - while Labour has yet to say if it will back the Government - Mr Johnson said the local restrictions would last until February 3 - although MPs will vote again in January over a possible extension.

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Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from some Tory MPs over the new tier system due to come in when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday (December 2)

And after anger locally over the decision to put the whole of Lancashire in tier three, against the advice of local experts, the Prime Minister has said local directors of public health will be consulted ahead of the first review of the tier structure on December 16.

Mr Johnson said: “We can’t blow it now. We can’t just throw it all away – not when freedom is in sight. We have worked too hard, lost too many, sacrificed too much, just to see our efforts incinerated in another volcanic eruption of the virus…

“We are so nearly out of our captivity. We can see the sunlit upland pastures ahead. But if we try to jump the fence now, we will simply tangle ourselves in the last barbed wire, with disastrous consequences for the NHS.

“So let’s do the job properly. Let’s work together, and with tiering, testing and vaccines let’s make 2021 the year we kick Covid out, take back control of our lives and reclaim all the things we love.”

The Prime Minister likened the development of effective vaccines to the “morale-boosting bugle-blasting excitement of Wellington’s Prussian allies coming through the woods on the afternoon of Waterloo”.

And he said: “If and when we can begin delivering those shots in the national arm – beginning with the most vulnerable groups – we will know we have won.”

His comments came as he attempted to head off a rebellion by offering Parliament another chance to vote on the restrictions early next year, saying the legislation will have a “sunset of February 3”.

He also said that at the first review of the measures on December 16 he would move areas down a tier where there is “robust evidence” that coronavirus is in sustained decline.

Mr Johnson wrote to Tory MPs on Saturday night ahead of a crunch Commons vote on the restrictions on Tuesday, when scores of them could rebel.

They are angry at that so much of the country will be under stringent restrictions when the national lockdown ends.

Mr Johnson said the Government will review local areas’ tiers every fortnight and bring the regulations before Parliament after the fourth review on January 27 which will determine whether the tier system stays in place until the end of March.

He also said the first such review, on December 16, would consider the views of local directors of public health, with a final decision on whether any areas should change tiers made at a Cabinet committee. The changes would come into effect on December 19.

In a further olive branch to MPs, the Prime Minister committed to publish more data and outline what circumstances need to change for an area to move down a tier, as well analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the measures taken to suppress coronavirus.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 99% of England will enter Tier 2 or 3, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors when the four-week national lockdown lifts on Wednesday.

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the measures, including the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady who said he wanted to see people “treated as adults” and trusted with their own health decisions.

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