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Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has teased the possibility of lockdown freedom for those regions placed into the harshest tier levels. In a welcome boost, Mr Jenrick has said some areas in England could have their coronavirus restrictions downgraded before Christmas. On Thursday, Number 10 said most of England would go into the two highest tiers when lockdown ends on December 2.
Sky News host Kay Burley grilled Mr Jenrick on how quickly regions can leave the strict tiers they have been placed in.
She asked: “How quickly can regions come out of their tiers?
“Is there a possibility, using Greater Manchester as an example, that they come out of Tier 3 into Tier 2 before Christmas?”
Mr Jenrick hinted that “it is possible” for local authority areas to move tiers before Christmas, but says the relaxation of rules is “likely to drive some higher rate of infection”.
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This comes amid claims that England could face a third lockdown in January, following the easing of rules around Christmas.
Mr Jenrick explained: “It certainly is possible. There will be a review point in 14 days’ time, around December 16.
“At that point we – advised by the experts – will look at each local authority area and see whether there is potential to move down the tiers.
“There were a number of places which were quite finely balanced judgments where they were on the cusp of different tiers.
“Those are the places that are more likely to be in that position.
“We have also got to bear in mind that there will be an opening over the Christmas period which is likely to drive some higher rate of infection if some people choose to go and meet family and friends on Christmas Day and the days surrounding it.
“Our overall approach is trying to ensure the tiers hold the line and that places are in a process of de-escalation.”
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He added: “What we don’t want to do is ease up too quickly and then find that in January we are having to put tiers back in place again.
“But there is every reason to believe that places could see a change at December 16-17 time.”
The new tier measures mean more than 55 million people face tougher coronavirus restrictions in England.
Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – which accounts for just over one percent of England’s population – face the lightest Tier 1 restrictions.
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