Speaking on BBC Breakfast today (17 November) Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said that the Government would be reviewing the tier system to enable to move the country back into a tiered structure once lockdown ends, and that any new structure would have “greater consistency”.
His comments come after Susan Hopkins, medical director of Public Health England and chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said that ministers would have to look at strengthening the tier system, with the tier 1 restrictions that covered half the country earlier this month having had “very little effect”.
Boris Johnson has said that national restrictions will end on 2 December with plans to reopen “as much as possible” on the deadline, although there is growing speculation that man parts of the country will still face significant restrictions once the lockdown has ended.
The Prime Minister’s senior scientific advisers have accepted that tier level of restrictions did control cases, but they have warned him that the Tier 1 restrictions, which allowed people to meet indoors in private homes, pubs and restaurants in groups of up to six, did not stop infections spreading.
Commenting on the news, Alex Reilley, co-founder of Loungers, tweeted that the hospitality sector should not tolerate what he described as the "Draconian" tier system.
"Disappointing to see that the medical/scientific community is already gearing up to demand more misery and distress is inflicted on hospitality," he said.
"It must be really annoying for some that we can’t be blamed at the moment! Hospitality continues to be the Covid punch bag despite all of the stats consistently demonstrating that we’re not the problem."
"Hospitality provides more young people in the UK with employment, skills & opportunities to progress than any other sector & these jobs are under severe threat. We should not stand for more lockdowns and draconian ‘tiering’"
Ministers hope to approve a temporary relaxation of the rules over the Christmas period but the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said this should be dependent on whether cases were on the decline.
Speaking at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference (16 November) Dr Hopkins, who sits on Sage, said that she expected to see the impact in falling cases “over the next week”.
“As we start seeing cases decline, then we can start making a judgment about what are the right decisions that we make and what are the opening up decisions that happen on December 2.”
She said that she doubted the country would return to the same system, with different effects in different areas.