Matt Hancock says it’s ‘too early to tell’ if this lockdown has done enough.
Hancock said he was unable to rule out an extension of the lockdown, saying it was ‘too early for us to know’ if coronavirus cases had been brought down sufficiently.
Dr Hopkins, one of the Government’s Covid-19 advisors, explained on the press conference on Monday that the lowest local tier restrictions had ‘little effect’, despite Boris explaining he hopes the nation will return to local restrictions.
Dr Hopkins added that they would have to consider strengthening the measures to ‘get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone’.
Mr Hancock explained that the government does not yet know the impact the lockdown has had.
He said: “It is too early for us to know what the number of cases will be as we come to the end of the current lockdown.
“But we absolutely hope to be able to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system similar to what we had before.”
Dr Hopkins added that Tier 2 restrictions appeared to work in some areas but ‘not so well in others’.
She said: “We see very little effect from Tier 1 and I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone.”
Robert Jenrick confirmed ministers are reviewing the tiering system to decide what restrictions to put in place ahead of the potential end of the national lockdown on December 2nd.
He said ministers want to see ‘significant easing’ of controls to have a ‘somewhat more normal December’.
Speaking to Sky News, he explained that an extension of the lockdown would require a vote in parliament. 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 to BBC Breakfast, Jenrick said: “In tier 3 there was a baseline of measures, which the chief medical officer and others have always said was only the beginning, and we then asked local areas to consider whether they would be willing to go further than that, some did, some decided not to.
“So I think in the new tiers we would like greater consistency and 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.
“We haven’t come to a conclusion on that yet, to be perfectly honest, but we will be within the next week or so.”
The rules for Christmas have been announced, and three households will be able to meet indoors over the festive period. Three different households will be able to form a ‘bubble’ for Christmas, between December 23rd and December 27th. The Christmas rules will apply across the whole of the UK, Sky News reports.
It comes after the devolved administrations and UK government spent this week in meetings to work out a plan for Christmas, with an agreement happening on Tuesday afternoon. The bubbles will only be able to meet in a private home, place of worship or outdoors, and won’t be able to go to a pub, restaurant or bar.
According to the rules, once a bubble is formed you can’t change it. The lifting of certain rules will also see travel restrictions lifted across the UK over the five-day Christmas period, meaning people can travel anywhere in the country to meet their bubble.
Michael Gove chaired the meeting. He said: “For five days, from December 23rd to 27th, people will be allowed to have a Christmas bubble.
“That means that three households can get together so families can enjoy something closer to a normal Christmas.
“We all know that Christmas this year won’t be as it has been in years’ past, but all the governments agreed we should balance the need to protect public health with also allowing people to be with their loved ones.”
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have to recognise that Christmas is a very important time for people, and that you have to have a set of rules that people will be prepared to operate within.” He added: “While I have hesitation, because of the state of the virus in Wales and across the United Kingdom, it is better that we have a common set of arrangements that give people a framework that they can manage within and act responsibly within as well.”
Downing Street has said Boris Johnson believes MP should not receive an annual pay rise.
Next year, MPs are expected to receive a pay rise of £3,360 on top of their £81,932 annual salary, causing anger among the public as it comes at a time when ordinary people are struggling.
However, a Downing Street spokesperson has said that Mr Johnson has already frozen ministerial pay as he does not believe MPs should get a pay rise.
The spokesperson said: “MP’s salaries are obviously decided by an independent body but given the circumstances, the PM doesn’t believe MPs should be receiving a pay rise”.
On top of their annual salary, MPs are also able to claim allowances to cover the cost of running an office, employing staff and maintaining a constituency residence or residence in London.
News of the potential pay rise has caused outrage after thousands have lost their jobs in the pandemic. The exact amount of the pay rise is yet to be confirmed.
The PM’s statement comes following an awkward interview between Matt Hancock and Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan.
Piers said he would ‘love’ to hear the Health Secretary refuse a pay rise in the struggling economy.
Hancock said: “That’s what all ministers did in the pay freeze that there was after the global financial crash – me included.
“Let’s see what the final recommendation is and then I’ll come… I know, I’ll promise to commit to coming back on this programme immediately after that decision comes through and then I’ll let you know. I will answer this question when the pay policy has been set out by the chancellor.”
Piers interrupted and said: “I’m just asking you to say you are not personally going to take a penny.
“Just say I, Matt Hancock, right now tell Good Morning Britain viewers that in all good conscience it would be wrong of me to take a penny in a pay rise this year. And I am going to put my hand up and lead.”
Hancock, who is believed to be paid an annual salary in the region of £140,000, said: “It’s very tempting, it’s very tempting Piers. I am a stickler for not pre-judging things. You can’t knock me off the perch.”
Piers responded: “You’re not a parrot, you’re the Health Secretary in the year of the catastrophic handling of the pandemic.”
As before, some businesses will be forced to close in regions which are put into Tier 3.
The new, tougher tier system will come into play next week when the national lockdown ends on December 2nd.
The country is set to find out which tier their region is in on Thursday, and while Greater Manchester’s infection rates are falling, there’s a chance we might be placed back into Tier 3 initially.
The Prime Minister announced on Monday: “So we’re not going to replace national measures with a free for all, the status quo anti-Covid, we’re going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach – applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent.
“And while the previous local tiers did cut the ‘R’ number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below one.
“So the scientific advice, I’m afraid, is that as we come out our tiers need to be made tougher.”
In Tier 3, hospitality venues such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants must remain closed.
They can continue business if they can offer sales via takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
Hotels, B&Bs, campsites guest houses and other forms of accommodation must also shut. They can only remain open for one of a few exemptions such as if it provides main residence for some people or it is used for reasonably necessary work or education and training.
Indoor entertainment venues must close. This includes:
Indoor play centres and areas, including trampoline parks and soft play
Amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
Laser quests and escape rooms
Cinemas, theatres and concert halls
Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor environments must also close.
Zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves
Aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions
Museums, galleries and sculpture parks
Botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses
Theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs
Visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes
Landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms
Leisure and sports facilities – such as gyms – may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms must also stay closed.