Despite England currently being in lockdown, the government is striving towards a “more normal” December. While the current lockdown will end on December 2nd, it is presently uncertain what comes next, with potential future restrictions now under review.
Included in the list of restrictions under review is the three-tier system implemented before the national second lockdown. The UK government is in the process of deciding which rules should remain in place after lockdown ends.
Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, said the goal is to have a “somewhat more normal December” but that the decision process is still in the early phases. Exactly which restrictions will be eased, and whether regions will move back into tiers, is not yet apparent.
Talking to Sky News about the potential of a lockdown extension, he said, "It is our hope and expectation that that won’t be the case and that people in England will be able to move back into the tiered system.”
“There will be a review. That work is undergoing on what those tiers look like and how local areas go back in but that will very much depend on the data. We will have to make decisions nearer the end of the month once we have got the most up-to-date information possible.
“So it is too early to say which tiers people will be able to go into. But we all want to see a significant easing of the measures in all parts of England at the beginning of next month.”
Speaking separately to the BBC, he urged “greater consistency” within the post-lockdown tiering system, saying that some local areas agreed to go the extra mile when placed in tier three and some would simply stick to the baseline rules laid out for them in the highest tier.
He added, “We will have to look at the evidence to see which of those measures was actually the most impactful on the virus so that we take the most evidence-based approach that we can do.”
A member of the government's scientific advisory group, Dr Susan Hopkins, said in a press conference on Monday, "We see very little effect from tier one and when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone."
Hopkins has advised that evidence is needed that supports the effectiveness of the four-week lockdown, saying that a fall in the number of cases needs to be seen. "As long as we see cases decline we can make judgments... about opening up," she commented.
However, in the same briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, "At the moment, most of the tests we're getting back, and most of the positive cases, are from around the time the lockdown came in, so we are yet to see in the data - and it's too early to expect to see in the data - the impact of the second lockdown."
He also confirmed that 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been bought and said that “great advances in medical science are coming to the rescue.”