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Home Secretary tells LBC new national lockdown can be avoided if people follow the rules
22 December 2020, 08:36
Home Secretary Priti Patel has told LBC that a national lockdown can be avoided in the New Year if people "follow the rules within their Tiers".
Speaking with Nick Ferrari on LBC, the Home Secretary was asked how close England is to "effectively another lockdown or Tier 4 nationwide".
"First of all, it is right that we look at the spread of the virus," she stated.
"All decisions are made and we have review periods based on the data that comes in from Public Health England and from government advisors.
"This isn't about how close are we to a national lockdown, we have just made and introduced new measures over the weekend with Tier 4.
"We will continue to watch the virus and we will continue to reiterate protective measures across the country."
London and parts of the south east were placed under strict Tier 4 measures over the weekend following a surge in cases and concerns over a new strain of the virus.
Aside from a few exemptions, it is currently illegal for people living in Tier 4 areas to leave, with a ‘Stay at Home’ message in place.
Her comments come as it was reported that with the new variant now surging across the UK, an announcement that large areas of England will join London and parts of southeast England in Tier 4.
A review of the Tier system is expected on Wednesday 30 December, with a clampdown expected to come into force in the new year.
The Home Secretary's comments contrast with those made England's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday during a Downing Street news conference.
Sir Patrick warned that cases had spread "everywhere" and told the country to brace itself for further restrictions.
"The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily," he said.
"It's more transmissible, we absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.
"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced."
He also urged the public to take the new variant "incredibly seriously" and said it required "more action in order to keep it down and that's why Tier 4 is important".
Pushed on whether she could rule out another lockdown, Ms Patel said: "And of course our absolute focus is getting the spread of this virus down and I maintain that as the public follow the rules and follow the guidance within the Tiers.
"Tier 4 in particular, where we know the virus is spreading, if we can get on top of that in due course one hopes we can have more of our freedoms back."
However, government scientific advisers have warned that unless another national lockdown is imposed within days, thousands of lives could be lost in a "human disaster".
SAGE member Robert West, said: "We need to reset our strategy and move rapidly to a zero COVID strategy of the kind that many have been proposing."
"This will involve stricter but more rational social distancing rules across the country and finally be doing what we should have done from the start - to build the kind of test, travel, isolate and support programmes they have in countries in the Far East.
"It sounds expensive, but the alternative could well be a catastrophic collapse in confidence in the country's ability to control the virus and the economic, human and social disaster that would follow."