The government is reportedly considering changes to the tiered system in December once the second national lockdown, new reports suggest. Confirming the return of the tiering system during his November lockdown announcement, Boris Johnson has already prepared us for measures to remain in place on December 2 – with the most affected regions expected to remain under stricter rules than the rest of the country.
As well as the potential addition of a fourth tier, which sources say is currently being considered, changes to the grouping of regions may come into place as well, with areas being broken down by region, rather than by city or councils. This means that if Bradford, for example, retains a high infection rate once the November restrictions are lifted, the entirety of West Yorkshire could be placed on tighter measures.
A source told the Telegraph: “There is a desire to simplify the system, and having lots of different tiers with a relatively small area can be confusing. A region by region approach certainly makes a lot of sense.”
“We will return to a regionalised approach after the lockdown, and the Government has not said explicitly at this point that the tiers will be exactly the same.
“People could enter lower tiers if they obey the lockdown rules and the R rate falls. The Government will set out what the tiered system looks like a week before lockdown ends on December 2.”
Sources are also claiming that pre-existing tiers may also be altered for when lockdown ends. Health secretary Matt Hancock has also suggested regions may not emerge from the current lockdown into the same tier they went into it with.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “It seems likely as things stand that an extra tier will be introduced, whether that is called ‘tier four’ or ‘tier three plus’.
“It would mean we could keep pubs and restaurants closed in the top tier, then areas would come down through the tiers as the infection rates come down. But nothing has been decided yet. These discussions are still at an early stage.”
Fears of a new tier continue to grow following the extension of Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme – which was extended to March 2021 following the announcement of the November lockdown.