Scientists have said rows about the new tiered COVID-19 rules could be "very damaging to public health".
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies' (SAGE) Dr Jeremy Farrar voiced concerns over how the current system is being handled. Farrar warned against making the three-tier system a divider between the north and the south or a political party issue. He advised that this was "a very dangerous route".
He told the BBC, "One of the concerns I have is it is sort of dividing up the country when every part of the country is going through an expanding epidemic at the moment in all age groups."
"One of the challenges is the confusion of the messaging. I think on the whole simplicity is easier to understand, it's easier to adhere to, there's a sense that the country is in this together and all parts of the country affected."
He continued to tell the BBC that countries who have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic well, such as New Zealand and South Korea, had a "national consensus about the way forward".
Farrar continued, "I think we've got to come together as a country, this fragmentation, and frankly making this either a north-south or a party political issue, that's a very dangerous route to go on."
"What we don't want now is a fragmentation or confusion - one area or region or city pitched against another. I think that would be very, very damaging to public health and the country's ability to respond."
Up until now, the Prime Minister has said the three-tier system was "the right way forward" and the most effective way to avoid a national lockdown and the issues that come with it.
Discussions surrounding whether or not to place Greater Manchester and Lancashire in the “very high” tier have resumed today.
York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash in Derbyshire, Elmbridge in Surrey, and Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, London and Essex will move to the middle tier from Saturday. Following these implementations, more than half of the English population will be living under the restrictions of the top 2 tiers.
BBC’s political correspondent, Nick Eardley, has said that the “stand-off” between political leaders in different regions, and debates on which areas should be placed into which tiers
“is causing dismay among some scientists.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, told the BBC leaders in the region had "unanimously opposed" a motion to move the area into the highest tier.
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, has urged political leaders to "set aside party politics" and work cooperatively with the government given the rapid increase of cases in the north-west.