Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

Coronavirus: More areas to move into Tier 2 of England’s lockdown system

More areas will join London in moving to Tier 2 of England’s lockdown system, the health secretary has told MPs.

Speaking in the Commons, Matt Hancock said Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash, Chesterfield and York will move into the next level of coronavirus restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed earlier on Thursday that the capital would also be moving in to Tier 2, after a spike in infections across the city.

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Southend and Thurrock are not included in the new measures, as they are unitary authorities.

It means residents will not be able meet other households socially indoors – in any setting, at home or at other venues.

The Rule of Six applies in outdoor settings, and people should “reduce the number of journeys where possible”.

Essex County Council had asked Mr Hancock to move the area into Tier 2 on Tuesday, and welcome the changes.

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “We think the government has decided correctly, guided by the science and the fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially.

“We understand that the move to the High local Covid alert level may affect people’s lives and businesses and understand the very strong feelings about this.

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“However, we have a duty of care to the people of Essex, and we firmly believe that this is the best route to minimise disruptions, to save lives – not just for those with the virus, but for other patients as well – and to protect businesses.

“These are difficult times for individuals, businesses and communities, but I know that as a county we will come together to support and protect one another – as we have done previously – and that acting sooner rather than later to curb the spread of Covid is the right thing to do.”

The MP for York Central, Labour’s Rachael Maskell, welcomed the move in her constituency, but asked Mr Hancock why he did not go further, given “there are areas of the country in Tier 3 with a lower infection rate”.

The health secretary responded saying he will continue discussions over the measures in York.

There has been no decision about whether to move Greater Manchester into Tier 3 (“very high”), the highest level of restrictions, with further meetings between ministers and local leaders due to take place later today.

Mr Hancock told MPs that “discussions are ongoing”, adding: “No further decisions have yet been made but we need to make rapid progress.”

MPs in Lancashire have told Sky News they have been informed that the area is staying in Tier 2 for now.

Mr Hancock doubled down on his local approach to imposing restrictions in the Commons, dismissing Labour’s call for national circuit breaker lockdown.

He added that the decisions have been made with a “heavy heart”, and have a sole aim of “steering our nation through troubled waters.”

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