Boris Johnson plunges 99% of England into toughest tiers as he warns not to ‘take foot off throat of the beast’

14 mins read

BORIS Johnson yesterday put all of England under the toughest two Covid tiers — apart from a lucky one per cent.

Only the Isle of Wight and Cornwall, plus the Isles of Scilly, escaped strict curbs to follow national lockdown next week.

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PA:Press Association

Boris Johnson has plunged 99 per cent of England into the toughest tiers[/caption]


He said severe tiers were the only way to avoid an overwhelming winter for the NHS and another national lockdown[/caption]

The PM said: “If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again.”

He also warned against “taking our foot off the throat of the beast” as he unveiled his toughened-up Covid tiers.

The PM plunged 55million people in England into Tiers 2 or 3 while admitting he was sorry for the “heartache”.

Mr Johnson said severe tiers were the only way to avoid a winter of hibernation and a New Year national lockdown.

But he promised: “Your tier is not your destiny.” Each will be reviewed on December 16, and weekly to the end of March.

The PM said enough troops — thought to be around 14,000 — were on standby for community testing to help get virus rates down.

If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again.

Boris Johnson

But Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty gave a gloomier prognosis, warning it could be months before areas escaped the toughest tiers.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly landed in the lowest, Tier 1, when the month-long national lockdown ends just after midnight on Wednesday.

People living there will face few restrictions and be free to mingle indoors.

Some 32million people, just over 56 per cent of the English population will be in Tier 2 — including Liverpool and London.

PA:Press Association

Mr Johnson promised the tiers will be reviewed on December 16 [/caption]

And 23million people, or 42 per cent, will be in Tier 3 including Birmingham, Manchester, Hull, swathes of the Midlands and Kent.

There was fury in the Garden of England as it contains some areas with the lowest case levels in the country — but also hotspot areas such as Swale and Medway.

MPs had wanted the restrictions to apply on a council basis, but whole counties and cities were slapped with the same rules.

However, other areas such as Slough town centre and the rest of Berkshire were put into separate tiers — sparking claims the system was unfair.

Mr Johnson faces the humiliation of relying on Labour votes to pass the latest restrictions amid a brewing Tory rebellion over how they were decided.

In October 42 per cent of England was in Tier 1, a further 43 per cent in Tier 2 and just 15 per cent in Tier 3.


Furious MPs claimed the PM’s latest version was “national lockdown by the back door”.

They vowed to vote the new rules down when it comes to the Commons next week — unless they are given a clearer explanation of the criteria.

But urging the public to “keep an eye on the prize” with vaccines on the way, Mr Johnson said he was convinced things will genuinely be much better by April.

He promised: “Together we can get through this winter, suppress the virus, and reclaim our lives and all the things we love.”

Getty – Pool

Prof Whitty said it could be months before some areas are returned into lower tiers[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Matt Hancock echoed his warning, saying ‘we cannot simply flick a switch and try to return life straight back to normal’[/caption]

PA:Press Association

With vaccines on the way, the PM said he was convinced things will genuinely be much better by April[/caption]

But he warned against “abandoning the fight yet, because we still have a long road ahead”.

And he insisted areas could look forward to relaxing rules if their case numbers dropped, with his “your tier is not your destiny” vow.

Prof Whitty struck a more ­cautious tone saying it could be months before some areas are returned into lower tiers, adding it would be a “mistake to make too many judgments too early”.

He added: “In some months, possibly weeks to come, we’ll be in a situation where more places could go into Tier 1.

“But we should not do that until we are confident because of the experience of Tier 1 previously.

“If you’re in Tier 1 the rates start to go up, so you do not want to do that in winter just before Christmas, going into the worst time for the NHS, unless you’re very ­confident indeed.”

In some months, possibly weeks to come, we’ll be in a situation where more places could go into Tier 1.

Prof Whitty

Prof Whitty urged the nation to “be sensible and don’t do stupid things” for their best shot at getting out of strict rules in the New Year.

In a stark address he told the public: “We can see an end, but the end is not now.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock echoed the warning saying: “We cannot simply flick a switch and try to return life straight back to normal.”

He added that London faces plenty of work to keep it in Tier 2 and avoid going into the next level.

The scientists said this evening that the Tier 3 system did help bring rates down, but Tier 2 means they stayed stable
Experts say the Tier 3 system did help bring rates down, but in Tier 2 they stayed stable
The number of people in hospital is beginning to flatten off
The number of people in hospital is beginning to flatten off


The tiers list in full

Tier 1: Medium alert
South East

  • Isle of Wight

South West

  • Cornwall
  • Isles of Scilly

Tier 2: High alert
North West

  • Cumbria
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Warrington and Cheshire


  • York
  • North Yorkshire

West Midlands

  • Worcestershire
  • Herefordshire
  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

East Midlands

  • Rutland
  • Northamptonshire

East of England

  • Suffolk
  • Hertfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
  • Norfolk
  • Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
  • Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes


  • all 32 boroughs plus the City of London

South East

  • East Sussex
  • West Sussex
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Surrey
  • Reading
  • Wokingham
  • Bracknell Forest
  • Windsor and Maidenhead
  • West Berkshire
  • Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Oxfordshire

South West

  • South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Dorset
  • Bournemouth
  • Christchurch
  • Poole
  • Gloucestershire
  • Wiltshire and Swindon
  • Devon

Tier 3: Very High alert
North East

  • Tees Valley Combined Authority:
  • Hartlepool
  • Middlesbrough
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Darlington
  • North East Combined Authority:
  • Sunderland
  • South Tyneside
  • Gateshead
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • North Tyneside
  • County Durham
  • Northumberland

North West

  • Greater Manchester
  • Lancashire
  • Blackpool
  • Blackburn with Darwen

Yorkshire and The Humber

  • The Humber
  • West Yorkshire
  • South Yorkshire

West Midlands

  • Birmingham and Black Country
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

East Midlands

  • Derby and Derbyshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire

South East

  • Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
  • Kent and Medway

South West

  • Bristol
  • South Gloucestershire
  • North Somerset

The Government insists it is not a full lockdown for anyone since shops, gyms and personal care businesses will reopen everywhere from next week.

Admitting the hospitality industry will “bear a disproportionate share of the burden”, Mr Johnson added: “I really wish it were otherwise.

“But if we are to keep schools open, as we must, then our options in bearing down on the disease are necessarily limited”.


Around 31,217 pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will be hit by Tier 3 limits, according to data experts the Altus Group — meaning they can only do takeaway or delivery.

Mr Johnson hailed Liverpool as a success story after mass testing there by the Army helped bring infection rates down to 162 per 100,000 people from 700 five weeks ago.

The city will go from Tier 3 into Tier 2 and provide a model for others to get cases down.

Mr Johnson has said that mass testing will be available to any area in Tier 3 with councils able to apply for help from next week.

But his pledge was met with scepticism given 2,000 troops were needed for the Liverpool pilot.

Some fear there will not be enough troops to cover the 42 per cent of the country plunged into Tier 3.

The PM insisted: “We will make sure we have adequate numbers of personnel to get it done.”

The Sun says

THE blanket imposition of tough new tiers on places that don’t merit them is a recipe for economic disaster and huge resentment.

How does the Government justify to pubs or restaurants in areas with low Covid cases that they must face ruinous restrictions, or close, probably for good?

The new system throws up ridiculous discrepancies and blatant injustices. No wonder MPs are in revolt. Tunbridge Wells in Kent, with a low infection rate, is in Tier 3. A neighbouring town with far higher cases is in Tier 2.

There are many more. Bizarrely, infections are dropping in almost all the 119 Tier 3 areas where 20 million of us live.

We do understand Boris Johnson’s motive behind this new tiers system.

His first last month WAS working to beat the second wave, albeit slowly, so a tougher one makes some sense. It’s not quite as bad as full lockdown. And we do need hospitalisations and deaths to fall further heading into winter.

But there are scores of inconsistencies which will do real damage to lives and jobs. Four in five pubs are now in peril.

The PM must review the allocation of these tiers. Not in a fortnight — today.

Defence sources said not all 2,000 troops in Liverpool had been needed, and that seven times that number were on standby.

An MoD spokesman said: “From next week, local authorities that fall into Tier 3 will be able to apply for support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme.

This includes access to lateral flow tests and planning, logistics, funding and communications support.”


The PM hailed Liverpool as a success story after mass testing helped bring infection rates down[/caption]

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