'Hope is on the horizon, but we still have further to go, so we must all dig deep'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that england would be entering a new tier system, tougher than the previous one, as of 2nd December. 

Among those in Tier 3, which will allow non-essential retail, places of worship and gyms to reopen, but will ask that pubs and restaurants offer takeaway and delivery only, are councils in the Tees Valley, (including Middlesbrough and Darlington); in the North East (including Sunderland, Newcastle, and County Durham), in the North West (including Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Blackpool, Yorkshire, the West Midlands, the East Midlands) and a handful of councils in the South East (Slough, Kent and Medway) and the South West (Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset).

Meanwhile, Liverpool, which has effectively been in lockdown for several months, will be in Tier 2, as will London and Devon.

See the full list here, and search your postcode to find out which Tier you're in.

In a speech to the House of Commons - after the tier locations were published on the government website which crashed shortly before his announcement - health secretary Matt Hancock said that it was a relief to see that cases are down 19% and hospital admissions have dropped by 7%.  

However, "we must protect our NHS this winter," he said. 

"I am so grateful for the resolve that people have shown throughout this crisis," he added, and thus"we will not be renewing national restrictions." 

"I know that this news provides hope for many, but we must remain vigilant," noting 696 deaths with Covid yesterday.

"We cannot simply flick a switch and try to get life back to normal," as, he explained, "we must keep surpressing the virus, whilst supporting education, the economy and the NHS." 

Regretting the decision to make tiers "tougher than before," he explained the methods behind the calculations. 

"We set out the criteria in the Covid-19 plan and published the data based on which the decisions are made," naming case rate, positivity rate and pressures on the local NHS. 

"We've not looked just at geographic areas but human areas," such as travel patterns and infection rates in surrounding areas. 

"More areas than before will be in the top tiers, this is necessary to protect the NHS."

"Frankly, the less any one person passes the disease, the faster we can get the disease under control together, and that is on all of us." 

He continued to explain that the government will be rolling out mass testing programmes like trialled in Liverpool to all Tier 3 areas to bring the infection rate down and reduce the Tier level.

"Viruses can take a short time to spread but a long time to vanquish and sadly there is no quick fix. They call upon our determination to make sacrifices that will bring it to heel, and our ingenuity to make scientific advances to see us through."

"Hope is on the horizon but we still have further to go so we must all dig deep. The end is in sight. We must'n't give up now. We must follow these new rules and make sure that our actions today will save lives in future, and help get our country through this."

Despite the Health Secretary's claim that "most of the country will be in Tier 2," it would appear that many areas where the infection rate remains low have been placed in Tier 3, much to the discontentment of hospitality businesses there. 


Christmas isn't cancelled, but the run-up is

The news follows on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement last week that the whole of the UK would be allowed to mix households for five days at Christmas.

He said we can "see a route out of the pandemic for the first time" and he is aware that "no other peace time prime minister has asked as much of the UK population."

From Wednesday, December 2 people will be able to leave home for any reason and meet up in outdoor spaces using the rule of 6. England will go back to a regional tier approach and the toughest measures will be in place were covid is most prevalent.

Past tiers were not enough to control the virus so scientific advice is that tiers need to be tougher. The main points for each tier are that those in Tier 1 should work from home if they can, in Tier 2 alcohol can only be served in restaurants, pubs and bars if served with substantial meals plus large events indoors up to a 1000 people can go ahead and all hospitality will be closed in Tier 3 with the exception of takeaway.

The new Tiers will be a uniform set of rules there will be no negation between regions. Last orders will now be at 10pm and with all hospitality venues closing at 11pm. The announcement of which region falls into which tier is expected on Thursday.

The new restrictions for the new tier system were immediately called into question, Tom Parker-Bowles tweeted: “Am I getting this right? Under new Tier 2, up to a thousand people can gather indoors for a concert. Yet in restaurants, you can only mix in your ‘support bubble’. And you cannot have a drink at all in a pub or bar unless with a ‘substantial meal’? Please tell me I’m wrong.”

Kate Nicholls from UKHospitality said: “PM says lockdown measures will be redundant by Spring - without further support many of our pubs, restaurants, hotels, indoor leisure and event spaces will be lost as will jobs across the supply chain. We share the hope and ask that he supports us so we can help deliver recovery.

“Even before these restrictions, 74% of hospitality businesses were not viable in Tier 2 and 94% not viable in Tier 3. We need urgent support to ensure these businesses can survive the winter.”

She says the PM continues ‘to believe hospitality is a weak link’ and ‘millions will go from lockdown into lockdown and millions in hospitality face a real threat to businesses and jobs.

She added: “We also need commitments that - having been forced to close to allow others to open - there will be no return to closure for hospitality post Christmas; that our businesses will be included in Christmas relaxations and that restrictions will be eased when vaccine is in use.

“We need to understand how, when and how frequently this is reviewed; how businesses may be brought out of restrictions and down the tiers; what steps will be taken to address the spread of infections in the community and open parts of the economy.

“Given that many hundreds of businesses are now placed in jeopardy and millions of jobs may be lost in hospitality, leisure and supply chain we urgently need the government to set out clearly the evidence to justify each restriction and explain how it will impact on the key health metrics.”

The prime minister explained that "more regions are expected to fall into higher levels than before." He also said that he "can’t say Christmas will be normal this year" but they are working with the devolved administrations to try and allow families to be together in some capacity.

He added: “This is not a pandemic without end.”

Due to the rapid vaccine development, he said, "we have turned a corner." 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 23rd November 2020

'Hope is on the horizon, but we still have further to go, so we must all dig deep'