Matt Hancock has suggested that UK tiers could be changed ahead of Christmas as they are subject to review on December 16. He urged areas of the UK to “come together” and bring case rates down as Liverpool has in the past month. Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing, the Health Secretary said: “We will look at the data on December 16 and we will announce the results of that review on December 17.
“Of course we have got to take into account that Christmas is coming up.
“Nevertheless with the case rates coming down as they are, almost a third in the last week.
“We will absolutely be looking at each area and seeing what is the right tier for that area.
“I want to see areas that have pulled together, followed the rules, got the case rate down like Liverpool has over the last month which has led to it going into Tier 2.
“I want to see that happening much more broadly.
“There are some areas of the country that I’m worried about.
“There are some small parts of the country where the numbers are still going up.”
His comments come as Boris Johnson has defended his plans for a tiered system to replace the national lockdown in England as he seeks to quell a rebellion against the restrictions from Tory MPs.
The Prime Minister said it would be wrong to “take our foot off the throat of the beast” now, with up to 100 Conservatives unhappy about the new system.
He acknowledged that “lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier” but insisted the measures set to come into force on Wednesday are needed to slow the spread of Covid-19.
His comments, during a visit to a facility of pharmaceutical firm Wockhardt in Wales, where it is hoped a vaccine will be produced, came shortly before the Government published its impact assessment of the tiered approach ahead of Tuesday’s crunch Commons vote.
Mr Johnson insisted the tiers are needed while “the scientific cavalry really are almost here”, as he said a jab could be available “in a few weeks”.
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“We can’t afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast, to take our foot off the gas, we can’t afford to let it out of control again,” he told reporters.
“The tiering system is tough, but it’s designed to be tough and to keep it under control.
“I know that lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier and I understand people’s frustration.”
Meanwhile, the Government published its impact assessment of the new strengthened three-tiered approach as ministers sought to minimise the scale of any rebellion.