Government to detail post-lockdown tier system 'in next week or so', Minister tells LBC

17 November 2020, 09:23

By Megan White

The Government will detail how the post-lockdown tier system will work "in the next week or so", Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has told LBC.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Mr Jenrick said there is a "very strong hope and expectation" that the current national lockdown measures will be eased on December 2, when the country will return to a regional tiered system.

The country entered a four-week lockdown on November 5, shutting non-essential shops, pubs, bars and restaurants.

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The measures are due to end on December 2 if they "have had the success that we hoped they would have done."

Mr Jenrick said the Government is currently planning to return to the tiered system and is working out "what the tiers might look like," both geographically and in terms of what restrictions would apply.

The Housing Secretary told LBC: “Our very strong hope and expectation is that there will be an easing of the measures on December 2 and we’ll move back into the tiered structure, and behind the scenes we’re doing work planning for that, working out what the tiers might look like, what sort of geographies they should be based on.

“We’ll be able to say more on that in the next week or so.”

He said: “What I do know is that the new national measures will come to an end on December 2, that’s a legal certainty.

“If they were going to be extended, the Government would have to come back to Parliament and make the case and have a vote in the house.

“Our hope and expectation is that those will come to an end and we’ll move back into the tiered structure, and that will see a significant easing in all parts of England – more in some parts than others, depending on the rate of infection.

“We’re doing the heavy lifting in November so that we can have a somewhat easier and more normal December.”

Asked if the current national lockdown was “starting to have the desired effect,” Mr Jenrick said: “It’s quite hard to say that with any confidence today, because there’s a two to three week lag time, and so the data that we’re seeing today is only just scratching the surface on the new national measures.

“What we’re really seeing today is the product of the tiered system that was in place two or three weeks ago, which does show that in most parts of the country there is an improvement.

“There are some areas where cases are still rising, and that’s obviously concerning.

“But it does appear in general as if the tiered system actually had an impact, therefore the new national measures should make a further impact.

“We’ll be taking a decision at the end of November when we’ve got the most current information.

“At that point, we should be able to make a judgement as to whether the national measures have had the success that we hoped they would have done.”

He said the R rate is an “important factor, but not the only factor,” adding: “If you remember when we chose to go into the new national measures, there were other things we took into account.

“For example, capacity within the NHS and the very real concerns that the NHS and local hospital trusts had that they’d be overwhelmed if we didn’t take further action.

“So we’ll also be taking into consideration how the NHS is performing and are we confident that if we ease the measures, then people will still be able to access ICU beds and hospital for all the other conditions that they might have."