Boris Johnson warns ‘UK tier system will be tough’ ahead of crucial announcement today

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Boris Johnson reportedly told a meeting of Conservative MPs no area in England will be included in the lowest tier of coronavirus restriction from Thursday. Mr Johnson insisted the new measures will be “tough” despite MPs voicing their concern on the impact extended coronavirus measures will have on the British economy after a dire 11.3 percent drop forecast. BBC Newsnight Political Editor Nicholas Watt said: “Boris Johnson told the meeting they shouldn’t read too much into that but the Government will outline which parts of England will go into these new three tiers.

“Boris Johnson said to that meeting, ‘folks, I am afraid the tiering tomorrow will be tough.”

“And some Conservative MPs were guided that nowhere in England will go into the more benign tier one.”

Mr Watt suggested the members of the 1922 Committee attending the meeting with the Prime Minister had also questioned Mr Johnson about the effective duration of the tier system in England in light of the latest Office of Budget Responsibility predictions for the British economy.

He continued: “Conservative MPs who have concerns about Covid restrictions picked on that forecast by Chancellor on an 11.3 percent contraction in the economy this year.

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“The reason they did that is a report from the Office of Budget Responsibility, that is their central assessment of what could happen this year.

“And that makes assumptions on what happened with Covid so it assumes that there is high to medium restrictions.”

The BBC editor added: “It then assumes that vaccines will not be widely available until mid-2021 and so Mark Harper, the former Conservative chief whip who is now the head of the Coronavirus Recovery Group, then said this suggests that these restrictions are going to go on far, far longer than you are suggesting, Prime Minister.”

The Government has maintained restrictions will remain in place until the spread of the coronavirus is once again brought under control in most areas of the UK.

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The tier system will be implemented from Monday, December 2 after the expiration of the 28-day long lockdown Mr Johnson was forced to impose due to infections spiralling out of control.

While the Government confirmed an agreement had been reached between all four UK nations on a five-day grace period for Christmas, during which up to three households will be allowed to mix indoors, Mr Johnson said social distancing rules will be in place for a while still.

Announcing the new tier system on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “We are not going to replace national measures with a free for all, we are going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach, applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent.

“While the previous local restrictions do cut the R number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below one. So the scientific advice is as we come out our tiers need to be made tougher.”

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Officials have defenced the allocation process, saying the decisions about which areas are placed under the three tiers will be based on recommendations from regional and national public health experts.

A series of criteria for the decision will include local infection rates, detection rates and pressure on the NHS. If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.

Alert levels will be reviewed every 14 days, with the first review taking place on December 16.

The Government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund will be extended to provide monthly payments to local authorities facing higher restrictions until the end of the financial year.

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