Reports tiers could be scrapped in English lockdown lifting plan

The Government may abandon the tier system and bring England out of lockdown in a nationwide approach, according to reports on Friday.

This week Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the roadmap out of the third lockdown in England will be published in the week of February 22. It will start with schools reopening as early as March 8 – and there are reports there could be three stages with shops opening a month later, followed by pubs last as late as May.

Before England went into a third lockdown at the start of January the country was in a system of four tiers – with Tier Four the highest and Tier One the lowest. Tier Four saw most closures and restrictions on travel and gathering, while only the Isles of Scilly were left in Tier One by the start of lockdown – with many fewer restrictions.

But now the Daily Mail claims a source says the tier system could scrapped when we leave this lockdown. Tiers are still an option but officials are “looking at” whether to unlock the country on a national basis, a source told the Daily Mail. Contacted by the Daily Mail, a government source vehemently dismissed the Daily Mail’s story and said no decisions were made. However, they added they did not rule things out.

Asked on Wednesday if the roadmap would “deal with how we lift every area out of its tier”, the PM replied that it would be “a broader roadmap for a way forward for the whole country”. Government scientists have also said the tier system in England – where large areas were essentially in lockdown but pubs could open on the Isles of Scilly – was not enough to contain the new ‘Kent’ variant of Covid.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Wednesday: “I think the evidence may well show that the tiered system and the restrictions that were placed towards the end of 2020, were getting the Covid as we knew it under control.

“But unfortunately the new variant came and that was, in one sense, unlucky but we’ve responded to that with stricter restrictions.

” A ‘government insider’ told the Daily Mail: “We do think the tier system was effective for the situation we faced last year, but we may face different circumstances this spring. “Tiers are still an option but we are also looking at whether it would be better to exit from lockdown on a national basis. “It will depend to an extent on the geographical spread of the pandemic in a few weeks’ time when we will be able to see if there is still value in trying to do things on a regional basis.”