By Asitha Jayawardena
London, Essex, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Surrey, Cumbria and other areas would be placed in tier 2 lockdown from Saturday 17 October, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “things will get worse before they get better”.
The day before, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a two or three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in England on Wednesday while Northern Ireland imposed the same restrictions. Arlene Foster, the first minister for Northern Ireland, announced new rules on Wednesday 14 October. It will be effective from Friday while the closure of schools will become into effect from Monday.
Welsh Government “actively considered” a short circuit breaker lockdown. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that people from parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with high rates of coronavirus will be banned from travelling to Wales from Friday.
Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon toughened the coronavirus restrictions in an attempt to control infection last week. While commending the ban on Wales, she thought about a similar prohibition in Scotland, for example, those visiting in Blackpool.
The new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions started in England on Wednesday after the indication of Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 12 October.
Tier 1 – Medium
Meeting of six – indoors and outdoors
10 pm – pubs and restaurants close
Tier 2 – High
No household mixing indoors
Meeting of six – outdoors
10 pm – pubs and restaurants close
Tier 3 – Very high
No household mixing indoors or outdoors, such as hospitality venues and private gardens
Meeting of six – outdoors (e.g. parks)
Pubs and bars not serving meals will be closed
Travel guidance – in and out of the area
Local measures would be possible
Most of England is in tier 3, which is at medium risk. Still, millions of people in the North, the Midlands and the South of England face extra restrictions on households mixing. However, schools, close-contact services and all retail outlets will remain open under basic measures, even in the highest alert areas.
Police had to intervene to disperse crowds in the Liverpool city centre with just hours before going into the tier-3 lockdown with very-high risk. The start of the lockdown in Liverpool went miserable.
Having informed Liverpool as that went into the tier 3 lockdown on Monday, the government secretly added more regions in that category. Now Manchester is being considered for tier 3.
Circuit breaker lockdown for England?
Meanwhile, Sir Starmer accused the government of having “lost control” of the coronavirus pandemic and asked why Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advice of the recommendation of “circuit breaker” lockdown as early as September was ignored at the Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday.
A national lockdown would be harmful to the economy and people but regional solutions would do good, came the reply from PM Johnson. However, Boris did not rule out the national version of the restrictions if the current solutions fail.
UK doctors and health experts back the circuit breaker lockdown so that the NHS (National Health Service) would not be overwhelming with Covid-19 patients.
Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of the Sage, said that a two-week circuit breaker lockdown in December would now be suitable for people as the holidays would give them to think and plan.
England: 3 tiers vs. circuit breaker?
PM Johnson would find that, as 3 tiers lockdown has just started, most of the areas in England would have to increase towards tier 3. After all, it would be tier 3 for all areas in England in a relatively short time.
Then, as Sir Starmer says, it’s the circuit breaker lockdown. If it’s continued for some months, its national lockdown, the lockdown that no one wanted.
Now, this is a virus. The virus has no appetite who likes it and who doesn’t when it comes to lockdown. So, we have to be careful.
The only hope is that scientists who are busy in developing the vaccine against Covid-19. When they succeed, we all will succeed.
Covid alert level: London, Essex, York and other areas moving to Tier 2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54551596
Coronavirus: Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/14/coronavirus-northern-ireland-to-be-put-under-partial-lockdown
Covid-19: New three-tier restrictions come into force in England https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54533924