'Your tier is not your destiny' says PM as harsh restrictions unveiled

26 November 2020, 17:31 | Updated: 27 November 2020, 06:06

By Megan White

Boris Johnson has said he hopes to "end the era" of coronavirus lockdown restrictions by the spring after the new lockdown tiers were revealed on Thursday.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said he hopes to end restrictions through a combination of community testing and vaccines.

But he warned that if the public "ease off" now, the country could face a "New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean."

Mr Johnson emphasised that the allocation of tiers will be reviewed every fourteen days, starting on 16 December, adding: "So your tier is not your destiny. Every area has the means of escape."

Read more: Hospitality business owners warn of 'devastating' impact of Tier 3 restrictions

Read more: Covid lockdown postcode checker: Check your area's coronavirus alert level and tier restrictions

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty also warned the public to avoid doing "stupid things" over Christmas amid a loosening of Covid lockdown restrictions.

Earlier on Thursday, the new lockdown Tiers were revealed, placing most of the country into Tier 2 from December 2.

London and Liverpool will enter Tier 2 of England's new covid system and Birmingham and Manchester will be in Tier 3, it has been confirmed.

The only areas to end up in Tier 1 are Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, and the Isle of Wight, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

The PM said: "We now have reason to hope that by Spring, community testing and vaccines will combine to end this era of restrictions.

"But to get there we must first navigate a hard winter when the burden on our NHS is heaviest and the cold weather favours the virus.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the new Covid tier system

"The data already suggests national measures in England have slowed - and in some places reversed - the growth of new cases.

"As more data comes in, we hope and expect to see those trends continue.

"Together we have prevented our NHS from being overwhelmed, but those dangers have not gone away.

"If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard won gains, and forcing us back into a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean.

"The tough measures in our Winter Plan are the best way to avoid this outcome."

The PM said he "really wished it were otherwise" but insisted the Tiers "strike a balance."

Mr Johnson continued: "I’m sorry to confirm that, from Wednesday, most of England will be in the top two tiers with the toughest measures.

"I know this will bring a great deal of heartache and frustration, especially for our vital hospitality sector - our pubs, our restaurants, our hotels, in so many ways the soul of our communities - which continue to bear a disproportionate share of the burden."

He added: "These tougher tiers strike a balance – they are sufficient to continue driving the virus downwards but it’s important to recognise they are less intrusive than the current national measures."

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the number of councils being put into the toughest two Tiers was "necessary" to control the virus.

He admitted "many other areas" want to be in Tier 1, and added he hoped they would be able to "soon".

What are the tier 2, high alert, rules and restrictions?

Schools restaurants and pubs will be open under Tier 2, but becomes a little more difficult.

Social bubbles and households must not mix indoors but the rule of 6 can still apply outside.

Gyms and shops will also be permitted to be open.

What are the tier 3, very high alert, rules and restrictions?

These are the toughest of restrictions set in place in England and will mean pubs and bars must remain shut unless a main meal is served, wedding receptions banned and no mixing of households or bubbles.

The rule of six outside applies and it will be determined by local authorities whether gyms, leisure centres and certain other businesses can reopen.

Unnecessary travel and overnight stays are also strongly advised against.