MILLIONS more people in England are to be plunged into tougher rules today – extending the lockdown in all but name.
More are expected to be shoved into Tiers 2 and 3 when Matt Hancock reveals the news today, banning household mixing inside and putting strict rules on hospitality.
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The new toughened up lockdown tiers are due to come into effect next Wednesday, when England's month-long national lockdown ends.
London and Liverpool are expected to avoid being put in the highest Tier 3, which will allow pubs and restaurants to remain open, but they must serve a substantial meal and different households can only mix outside.
Liverpool is being hailed as a success story after mass testing by the Army helped bring infection rates down to 162 per 100,000 people from 700 five weeks ago.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said earlier he expected the capital would be in Tier 2, and has spoken out against being shoved into Tier 3.
However, Manchester and Yorkshire and the Humber are set to fall under the toughest restrictions.
But they will get access to new rapid-result tests for everyone which give tests in under an hour, a strategy which has seen Liverpool's cases drop drastically.
The news comes as:
- Matt Hancock is due to confirm which areas will be in which tier at 11.30am with a statement in the House of Commons
- Boris Johnson will give a press conference at 5pm
- The new system is expected to be in place until the spring – with a limited relaxing of rules at Christmas.
- Ministers tried to reassure concerned MPs last night restrictions could be eased in time for Christmas when tiers are reviewed after two weeks – on December 16
Only a few rural areas will be in the lightest Tier 1 – meaning they just have to stick to the curfew rules and rule of six.
One Whitehall insider told The Sun: “The overwhelming majority of the country will be in Tier 2 and 3 – but there is still hope.”
Ministers tried to reassure concerned MPs last night restrictions could be eased in time for Christmas when tiers are reviewed after two weeks – on December 16.
Hospitality bosses warned three quarters of pubs, restaurants and cafes could go bust if the capital isn’t placed into the lowest tier.
MPs have demanded a cost-benefit analsysis of the Tiers system – and a clear strategy for how to get out of it.
London and Manchester are both expected to be treated as single regions, rather than broken down by boroughs, because of the high movement of people across the metropolitan areas.
Kent and Hull are regions that have seen sharp increases in infections as the tier announcement is imminent.
They are expected to move into higher tiers.
The newly tougher Tier 3 means pubs, restaurants and cafes have to shut – along with indoor entertainment.
People can't mix between households, either.
Boris Johnson has already admitted that more places will have to go into the top tier after the lockdown ends next week.
The Top 10 areas with worst infection rates
All rates per 100,000
Swale – 539.7
Hull – 529.3,
Thanet – 491.8
East Lindsey – 470.6
Stoke-on-Trent – 453.6
Dudley – 452.1
Boston – 438.9
Sandwell – 435.7
Hyndburn – 435.6
Kirklees – 430.7
Mr Johnson has said the allocation is based on "common sense" with a number of metrics used to decide how strongly to restrict areas.
These include case detection rates in the over 60s, the rate at which cases are falling or rising, pressure on the NHS and case detection rates in all age groups.
The number of positive cases found in a percentage of tests taken in certain areas will also come into consideration.
There are fears that most of the country could be put in Tier 2 or 3 – effectively banning people from seeing family and friends indoors until the spring.
Tories are already rounding on ministers to demand their areas stay out of the top level of restrictions.
They are demanding a cost benefit analysis and reams of data to back up the theory that the stricter rules will help bring down infections.
On Wednesday, the PM promised he would fulfil their wishes and give them information on why the Tiers system was working.
The rules will be relaxed for Christmas – with people in the UK allowed to form a bubble of up to three households.
They won't have to social distance, and will be able to travel between tiers.
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