Friday, 4 Dec 2020

POLL: Should national lockdown end early and be replaced with new four-tier system?

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Before the lockdown, the Government had pushed forward with a three-tier system across the country. Ahead of the end of the lockdown in England, ministers are drawing up plans to introduce a new four-tier approach while dividing the country into regions. Under the new plans, the country would be split into the North-East, North-West, South-West and South-East.

This would stop individual cities being placed into lockdown and allow ministers to take a more wide-ranging approach to each individual area.

Indeed, if the infection rate still remains high, ministers may introduce a new Tier 4 level of restrictions, while adapting the previous three.

One source told The Daily Telegraph: “We will return to a regionalised approach after the lockdown, and the Government has not said explicitly at this point that the tiers will be exactly the same.

“People could enter lower tiers if they obey the lockdown rules and the R rate falls.

“The Government will set out what the tiered system looks like a week before lockdown ends on December 2.”

Currently, the Government estimates the R-rate – which states the number of second-hand infections – at between 1.1 to 1.3.

On Tuesday, cases rose by 20,412, taking the number over the last seven days to 159,896 across the UK.

That was an increase of 2.3 percent from the last week while deaths also rose by 532 to 2,520, a 33.7 percent rise on the previous seven days.

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In areas such as Liverpool, the case rate had caused the area to be placed under Tier 3 restrictions before the national lockdown was imposed.

Under that, restaurants can only remain open until 10pm while bars can only remain open if they serve food.

However, cases in the city have now trailed off after hitting a peak of 584 on October 7 and on November 9, just 34 were reported.

The North-West as a whole hit a high of 6,136 on October 19 before dropping to 2,555 on November 8.

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As Christmas nears, ministers are hoping to bring in a more simplistic approach to how they deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK’s chief scientific advisor and medical officers, Sir Patrick Vallance and professor Chris Whitty, were both forced to defend the numbers they had forecast ahead of the lockdown.

During a select committee hearing last week, the two conceded the 4,000 a day deaths was a worst-case scenario.

Professor Whitty stated 1,000 deaths a day was a more realistic figure, while the pair also stated the tier system had begun to have an impact.

Sir Patrick said: “I am confident Tier Two has had an effect and that Tier Three has had a bigger effect. I am confident of that.”

A second source told The Daily Telegraph: “There is a desire to simplify the system and having lots of different tiers within a relatively small area can be confusing.

“A region by region approach certainly makes a lot of sense.”

The Government has so far refused to rule out extending the lockdown, although Mr Johnson has insisted he plans for it to end on December 2.

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