Downing Street has responded to reports that Lockdown 2.0 could be extended next month, following comments by Matt Hancock in a press conference just yesterday. The Health Secretary addressed the nation in a Coronavirus update, sparking fears that the current restrictions could remain in place after saying it was “too early to know” if England could return to less strict measures.
Insisting that the lockdown will end as planned on December 2, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said today: “In terms of the progress which is being made, obviously we will wait to see further data over the course of the next week or so.”, before adding that the R number had reduced in “some parts of the country”.
The spokesperson continued: “We are looking at ways to ensure that people can spend time with close family over Christmas at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year.”
Boris Johnson has already suggested that England will return to a tiered system following the four-week lockdown, with expectations that an additional fourth tier could be added into the mix with similar restrictions to a full-on lockdown. It’s reported that the worst hit areas of the country will face these restrictions after December 2nd.
Just this week, it’s been revealed that Hull has become the worst hit area in the UK – with an incredibly high infection rate of 783 per 100,000, compared to a national average of 271.8. Kirklees also features in the top ten worst hit towns and cities across England, with Wakefield and Calderdale also facing high infection rates. York remains the least affected in Yorkshire, with an infection rate of 185.
Public Health England has also warned this week that tiered restrictions could be strengthened next month, with deputy director Susan Hopkins saying: “We have recognised that the tiering of the country has had a different effect in each area.
“Tier 3, and especially tier 3 plus in the north, has had an effect in reducing the numbers of cases in the North West and we can see the North West’s declining number of cases now.
“Tier 2 seems to hold in some areas and not so well in others, and so really it depends on how fast transmission is occurring and how well the individuals in the population are taking that advice in.
“We see very little effect from tier 1 and I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone.”