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National Lockdown or Tier 5 by another name

January 4, 2021 6:46 PM
By Sian Elvin in Metro

England's coronavirus infection rates are spiralling and further restrictions are looking likely in the very near future. With prime minister Boris Johnson saying further measures are coming and health secretary Matt Hancock admitting the current tier system isn't working, it appears something will change soon. Around three-quarters of the country is already under tier four, the highest level of restrictions where household mixing is banned and non-essential shops are shut. But cases continue to rise rapidly and there have been suggestions for the past week that ministers are considering bringing in even tougher restrictions.

A Government source told the Mirror that instead of a third national lockdown, ministers could simply add 'another level on to tier four so like a tier five'. No details have emerged yet but it is thought a tier five could look like the first national lockdown in March in all but name. The main difference between tier four and the first national lockdown is that schools, universities and places of worship are still open, and small weddings are allowed. Here's what a potential tier five could involve.

Although the Government has insisted in recent weeks that schools must remain open wherever possible, scientists have warned the infection rate will not drop without the closure of schools. 'It's also not clear that even with closing schools, we can get the R below 1. And I think that's the big problem,' said Dr Michael Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group. After a meeting on December 22, experts warned: 'It is highly unlikely that measures with stringency and adherence in line with the measures in England in November (i.e. with schools open) would be sufficient to maintain R below 1 in the presence of the new variant.

R would be lower with schools closed, with closure of secondary schools likely to have a greater effect than closure of primary schools.'

Currently primary schools are shut in selected tier four areas and secondary schools are closed just this week - with GCSE and A-level students returning next Monday and all other pupils returning on January 18. It is possible the Government may U-turn on its decision to keep schools open and close them all except to vulnerable children and those of key workers, similarly to in the first national lockdown. Places of worship closed Under tier four restrictions places of worship - including churches and mosques - can remain open and services can continue, provided people do not mix with those outside their household or support bubble. Places of worship may be made to close under a tier five lockdown apart from in specific circumstances. Under tier four rules funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and linked commemorative events can continue with up to six people in attendance.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/04/what-could-close-in-a-tier-five-lockdown-13842788/?ico=related-posts?ito=cbshare