Tier 4 scenario
The Government will “rule nothing out” on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Officials are drawing up fresh plans to add an extra lockdown level, which could see restaurants and non-essential shops shut in the event infection rates in England fail to drop.
The fourth tier is thought to be viewed as a short-term option which could be deployed instead of national circuit-breaker restrictions in order to get the spread of the virus back under control.
Back in August, the Department for Education published a four-tier structure, in which all educational institutions, including primary schools and early years settings, would be shut.
Existing Tier 3 measures include the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve food, topped up by shutting gyms, soft play centres and casinos.
Asked about it on Monday 26 October, the Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve always said that we take nothing off the table.
“Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.
“The problem is it’s still going up, and while it’s still going up we’ve got to act to get it under control.
“We rule nothing out but at the moment the Tier 3 system is what we’re working to and it’s effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn’t brought this curve to a halt.”
Government scientists including Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, have warned that the “base line” Tier 3 restrictions were unlikely to be enough to bring down the R rate alone.
What are Tier 4 restrictions?
Talks are underway between officials and local authorities to create a “plan B” to drive Covid-19 infection rates down if the current three-tiered lockdown system fails to work.
Extra Tier 3-plus or potential Tier 4 restrictions could mean restaurants and non-essential shops are forced to close.
Matt Hancock ruled nothing in or out when he was asked about Tier 4 restrictions on Monday October 26, but it is thought new restrictions could be introduced in some parts of the country as early as November.