31 October 2020 00:32
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has refused to rule out the introduction of new "tier 4" coronavirus restrictions for England following dire warnings about the rising number of infections. Reports indicate that Boris Johnson's government is considering plans for a full, national lockdown before Christmas following a "very bleak" briefing from its top scientific advisers. Mr Raab insisted the government wanted to stick with its current approach based on local restrictions — but did not deny that even tougher measures for the worst-hit areas were now under discussion. Asked whether Downing Street could bring in a higher tier 4 level like Scotland, the cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're always ready for further measures we can take. "Having said that, we're confident we've got the right measures and framework in place … We're battling a second wave, and we're going to do everything we can in a targeted and focused way to repress and bring those numbers back down." Criticising the idea of a "blunt" nationwide lockdown, Mr Raab said the public would find it "desperately unfair" to impose one while infection rates vary across the country.
He told BBC's Breakfast: "I think in areas where the virus is not picking up, I think people would feel it was not only counterproductive or ineffective but desperately unfair for measures to be imposed across the board." England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam reportedly told ministers on Thursday that the rise in hospital admissions made the situation look "very, very bleak". The newspaper said Downing Street is now considering bringing in a full lockdown for England on either side of Christmas — with only a brief holiday window so people can meet family. Latest news straight to your inbox Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke to the BBC Radio 4's Today programme and said that the Government wasn't ruling anything out according to reports that Tier 4 or Tier 3-plus are being considered. Mr Raab also said the public would find it "desperately unfair" to impose a national lockdown while rates vary across the country, reports WalesOnline. The UK logged 274 new coronavirus deaths on Friday, just a few weeks after scientific experts warned the country is on course for a catastrophic second wave if more is not done to stem the spread of infections.
"Also I think in areas where the virus is not picking up I think people would feel it was not only counterproductive or ineffective but desperately unfair for measures to be imposed across the board." It comes amid concerns the current tier system does not allow for the closure of schools, so 'local circuit breaker' lockdowns are also reportedly being considered for areas tier 3 restrictions have failed to bring the virus under control. Matt Hancock previously said the Government would "rule nothing out" on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions. Tougher 'Tier 4' lockdown restrictions could be coming - but a national lockdown isn't the way to go, ministers insist. The Government has continued to defend the use of regional measures to fight rising Covid-19 rates, as the North East verges on Tier 3. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today refused to rule out introducing a fourth, even more restrictive tier of rules.
On September 21, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government, said a series of measures should be considered for "immediate introduction", including a nationwide circuit-breaker and a ban on contact indoors with other households unless as part of a support bubble. But Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast the public would find it "desperately unfair" to face a national lockdown while rates vary across the country. "I think in areas where the virus is not picking up, I think people would feel it was not only counterproductive or ineffective but desperately unfair for measures to be imposed across the board," he said. Meanwhile, new data from NHS England shows the number of coronavirus patients in hospital beds has more than doubled in two weeks from 4,105 on October 13 to 8,595 on Tuesday. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a new tiered system of restrictions will come into force at 6am on Monday.