After Boris Johnson’s announcement that the country will be coming out of lockdown on 2 December and going back into “tougher” tiers, the question in everyone’s mind is: which tier will we be in?
We spoke to Hounslow Leader Steve Curran after a meeting of the 33 leaders of London Boroughs yesterday afternoon.
“If I were a betting man I’d say Tier 2” he said.
The councils don’t yet know which tier London will be in. A five o’clock meeting with Communities minister Robert Jenrick revealed no more, said Cllr Curran, as he just reiterated what the Prime Minister had said earlier. They’re waiting on the next set of Covid figures before it will be decided and announced on Thursday 26 November which areas will be in which tiers.
Steve Curran said he thought London would be treated as one. He’d heard nothing to suggest that different boroughs might be in different tiers.
Supposing we are in Tier 2, that will mean non-essential shops, restaurants, pubs, gyms and salons will reopen next week.
Image above: Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving an update on the pandemic on Monday 23 November 2020
The Prime Minister told the country that “for the first time since this wretched pandemic took hold, we can see a route out of the pandemic. The breakthroughs in treatment, in testing and vaccines, mean that the scientific cavalry is now in sight”.
He said he was acutely conscious that no other peacetime Prime Minister had asked so much of the British people and he was deeply grateful for the way in which we’d responded. The Government’s Winter Plan is designed “to carry us safely into spring”. He said he was not going to replace national measures with a “free for all”. We would return to regional tiers, but the tiers would need to be made tougher.
From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their homes for any purpose and meet other people in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six.
“Collective worship, weddings, and outdoor sports can resume and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen”.
In Tier 1 people would still be encouraged to work from home where they could
In Tier 2 alcohol could only be served in pubs with a substantial meal and though last orders would be at 10.00pm, customers would have until 11.00pm to leave the pub. In tiers one and two spectator sports would be allowed to resume, inside and outside, with capacity levels and social distancing, as they would in theatres and concert venues.
In Tier 3 all forms of hospitality would be closed except for delivery and takeaway services.
We will find out on Thursday which tier we are in, but the Prime Minister warned, more regions would fall in higher tiers than before. He said he couldn’t promise that Christmas would be “normal” but by maintaining the pressure on the virus it would enable more people to see their families and friends.
We don’t want the virus “to flare up again, forcing us back into lockdown in January” he said. “This virus is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce” and families would have to make careful judgements about visiting elderly relatives.
Two scientific breakthroughs would make the restrictions “obsolete” says Boris Johnson: improved rapid testing and effective vaccines.
By the end of the year people in care homes would be able to have two visitors, who can be tested twice a week. Carers looking after people in their own homes would be offered weekly tests from today. Rapid testing would also enable students to come home safely at the end of term. The Government would offer local authorities in Tier 3 “a six week surge of testing”.
“Clearly the most hopeful advance of all is how vaccines are edging ever closer to liberating us from the virus” he said. Oxford University and Astra Zenica have developed one of the three most effective vaccines “capable of delivering a period of immunity” and the Government has ordered 100 million doses.
We don’t yet know when it will be ready and licensed but the NHS was preparing to roll out an immunisation programme “the like of which we’ve never seen before”.
“We have turned a corner and the escape route is in sight. We must hold out against the virus until testing and vaccines come to our rescue and reduce the need for restrictions”.
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