TIER three lockdown rules may need to go “even further” to control coronavirus, a government minister admitted this morning.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said there was “a lot of work to do” to battle the virus after Chris Whitty warned the tough new restrictions wouldn’t be enough to slow the spread.
Last night, England’s top medic said that even the toughest ‘tier three’ shutdowns in Liverpool will not “be enough to get on top of it”.
And Mr Jenrick this morning told Sky News “we’re going to be living with it for a long time to come”.
He warned: “We may have to go even further than what we’ve announced.”
The Housing Secretary also warned the government wanted to “design those steps jointly between ourselves and local government”.
Boris Johnson last night unveiled the new tier system which sees regions put under “medium”, “high” and “very high” categories according to the spread of the virus.
It comes as…
- The Prime Minister last night said the rising number of cases were ‘flashing like warnings in a jet’
- 17million people were put into the two highest tiers
- Chris Whitty warned Tier 3 was not enough to stop the spread of coronavirus
- The number of workers who’ve lost jobs since March has hit 673,000 due to the impact of coronavirus
- Another 13,972 Brits test positive for coronavirus overnight and 50 more lose their lives
Mr Johnson carved up Britain into the three Covid risk categories last night — with 17million people in the two highest tiers.
The PM said that Britain was entering a “new and crucial fight” in a sombre address to the nation – aiming to simplify the various restrictions already in place across the country.
But Professor Chris Whitty issued a stark warning as he revealed the Tier 3 restrictions “will not be sufficient” to bring coronavirus rates down.
England’s top medic said said: “I am very confident that the measures that are currently in place are helping to slow the virus.
“These measures will help to slow it further.
“I am not confident – nor is anybody confident – that the tier three proposals for the highest rate, if you did the absolute base case and nothing more would be enough to get on top of it.”
Speaking beside Boris Johnson, he said last night: “We’re going to have to do more, that’s the whole point of what the Prime Minister has just announced, and probably in some areas significantly more.
“None of us have any illusions about this and I would like to be really clear about this because I think we should not have any illusions.
“The idea that we can do this without causing harm is an illusion.
“It is a balancing act between two harms: a harm for society and the economy on the one hand and a harm for health on the other hand.”
Meanwhile, last night it emerged the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee – of which Prof Whitty is a member – officially recommended a two-week lockdown on September 21.
The group said a short-term lockdown would be “likely to have similar levels of effectiveness as national lockdown in spring” and temporarily bring the R-rate below 1.
The rate of infection is currently hovering between 1.2 and 1.5.
Sage suggested a work at home order for those who can, as well as a ban on all contact within the home with members of other households.
The scientists asked the government to consider the closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and personal services such as hairdressers.
University and college teaching would take place online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential.
SAGE warned: “A package of interventions will need to be adopted to reverse this rise in exponential cases. Single interventions by themselves are unlikely to be able to bring R below 1.”
Following yesterday’s announcement, in Tier 3 areas – which at the moment is Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton – households are not allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors – including in pubs and private gardens.
Pubs and bars will close in the very high alert level areas unless they can operate as a restaurant.
People will also be advised against travel in and out of the areas.
Local authorities will be able to put forward ‘bespoke’ measures under the different tiers – for example, those in tier three could suggest closing gyms.
But Labour mayors refused to accept the toughest restrictions in a row over money while fellow Tories blasted the new rules as “insane”.
From tomorrow, 1.5million on Merseyside will be on the very high risk Tier Three — where pubs, gyms and bookies will shut.
In a call to to action last night, Mr Johnson said the new measures were to avoid going down the “extreme route” of a full national lockdown.
Acknowledging the growing number of infections across the UK, he said: “These figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet and we must act now.”
He added: “The British people have the resolve to beat this virus and together we will do just that.”