Despite measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said large parts of England are moving to tier 2.
The country is battling with a second wave as coronavirus cases rise on a “steep upward path”.
From on Saturday, 12.01 am, a large part of the country – London, Essex, Borrow-in-Furness, Elmbridge, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will have their COVID-19 restrictions tightened.
What’s new with the Tier 2 level is that there will be no indoor household meetings, in addition to the many restrictions already in place.
Another restriction of note will be that residents in these areas will be advised to reduce the number of travels they make when and where possible.
Mr Hancock said cases are doubling in less than a fortnight in these areas with cases doubling every ten days in London.
According to Hancock, discussions are “ongoing” with local leaders in Greater Manchester and Lancashire on moving them up from the high alert level (Tier 2) to very high alert (Tier 3).
“In other areas currently in the second tier where discussions are ongoing, no further decisions have yet been made but we need to make rapid progress”.
This turn of an event means England will be divided into tier 2 and 3 with 26.7 million people affected in the tier 2 areas while Liverpool City Region, with 1.6 million population remains currently in Tier 3.
Hospitality venues except restaurants would be closed and indoor household mixing would be closed in Greater Manchester as it’s expected to move to Tier 3 after the discussion with Local Leaders.
ITV reports that there is no agreement being reach on new restrictions between Greater Manchester leaders and Downing Street and a further meeting is expected to be held today.
MP for Manchester Central Lucy Powell reportedly said: “there was unanimously fury about the process, evidence-based and economic support packages on the table during the talks”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy tweeted on Thursday afternoon that “Despite repeated attempts to claim we’re divided there was total unity from Conservative and Labour Greater Manchester MPs on the call with the Minister this morning. We will support evidence-based interventions with adequate financial support. We will not support this chaos.
Council leaders in England’s North East are not ready for the move as they agreed to oppose any plans to place the region in Tier 3 restrictions, Council leader Martin Gannon disclosed.
The leaders believed there was no need to add a new set of restrictions as the current ones were working and needed more time, Mr Gannon said.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan also said final talks with ministers are still ongoing, however, London will move into tier 2 from midnight on Friday.
The Mayor calls for affected businesses, local authorities and “vulnerable Londoners struggling to get by” to be supported financially.
The Health Secretary who said things will get worse before they get better said “We must act now. Delayed action means more deaths from Covid, it means more non-Covid deaths and it means more economic pain later.
“Because the virus comes down slower than it goes up. So we should stop it going up in the first place and unless we suppress the virus, we cannot return to the economy we’ve had.
“Unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep non-Covid NHS services going and, unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep the elderly and the vulnerable safe and secure.”
Covid tiers: What are the differences between each alert level?
- Medium (Tier 1) – Rule of six applies indoors and outdoors. Pubs and restaurants close at 10pm.
- High (Tier 2) – Households must not mix indoors in any setting including pubs and restaurants. Rule of six applies outdoors
- Very high (Tier 3) – Households must not mix indoors, or in private gardens. Rule of six applies in outdoor spaces including parks. Pubs and bars which don’t serve meals will be closed