- Natasha Clark
- Sascha O’Sullivan
- Kate Ferguson
- 17 Dec 2020, 11:45
- Updated: 17 Dec 2020, 18:33
FURY erupted at Matt Hancock today after he plunged millions more Brits into Tier 3 from Saturday – and only three areas moved down a Tier.
The Health Secretary revealed a string of areas including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Peterborough and Surrey would be bumped up into the top level of restrictions, closing businesses and causing hardship for thousands.
All the places changing Tiers
Full list of places going from Tier 2 to 3
- Central Bedfordshire
- Milton Keynes
- Berkshire (all remaining local authorities that are currently still in Tier 2: Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead, and West Berkshire)
- Hastings and Rother
- Gosport, Havant and Portsmouth
- Hertfordshire (all remaining local authorities currently still in Tier 2)
- Surrey (excluding Waverley)
Areas moving down a Tier:
Bristol and North Somerset come out of Tier 3 into Tier 2
Herefordshire comes out of Tier 2 and into Tier 1
Total people in each Tier in England:
Tier 1 – 906,000 people – 2% of the population
Tier 2 – 17million people – 30%
Tier 3 – 38million people – 68%
Schools, shops and gyms can stay open in the top Tier, but restaurants, pubs and indoor activities have to shut down under the harsh restrictions.
Today’s changes move around five million more people into Tier 3 at 12.01am on Saturday – facing a near lockdown in all but name.
Around 38million people will be in the highest level of lockdown rules, totaling more than two THIRDS of the population.
Just 678,420 lucky people in Bristol, Hereforshire and North Somerset will get extra freedoms as they move down a Tier.
Mr Hancock gave a gloomy update to the nation as he announced the changes – just a week before Christmas.
He warned: “Everyone has a personal responsibility to play their part.
“We’ve come so far – we must not blow it now.”
In the South East of England, cases are up 46 per cent in the last week alone.
Mr Hancock acknowledged that it would be “tough” to force businesses to close just before Christmas, after a horrible year of lockdowns.
But MPs and politicians rounded on him for the move, which was announced during the busiest period of the year for the hospitality trade.
The news comes as:
- 11,000 extra new cases were recorded in Wales after an error in the computer systems
- The UK recorded another 35,383 infections, according to today’s stats
- Boris Johnson told families last night to have a smaller, shorter Christmas gathering – but did not scrap the bubble rules
- However, in Wales people were told to only bubble with two households, and in Scotland they were ordered to only spend one day together
- Guidance for England said people should isolate from Friday if they were seeing family – and people should not travel from Tier 3 areas if they could
- People should consider meeting family outside – or keeping the windows open instead
- London and much of the South East were ordered into Tier 3 early amid rocketing cases
The news will dash the hopes of people in Manchester, Leeds and parts of Birmingham who were urging to be marked down.
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham blamed the North/South divide for why his area was still stuck in Tier 3 – but was “very disappointed”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “Greater Manchester today has lower rates than Liverpool and London had when they were originally put into Tier 2.
“One can only conclude that it’s the changed context in London and the South East which has changed the national context which has led to everybody in the north of England staying in restrictions.”
Sale and Aldringham MP Graham Brady said his area had lower cases than neighboring areas in Tier 2 – and Bristol which has just been dropped down.
The furious MP said today: “Exactly what do we have to do to go down to Tier 2?”
Buckinghamshire Conservative MP Greg Smith has said that moving his constituency into tier 3 was neither “reasonable or proportionate” and that there will be a “heavy toll on businesses”.
He told John Pienaar on Times Radio: “I can’t look any of my constituents in the eye and say tier three restrictions are reasonable or proportionate to the place we find ourselves with COVID 19.
“In fact, when I backed the tier system a couple of weeks ago, I only did so on the promise that the rural parts of Buckinghamshire, my constituency would be looked at separately to the rest of the county.”
And Steve Baker of the Covid recovery group fumed: “After a full and damaging national lockdown, millions more people and businesses across the country are heading into tougher restrictions.
“The Government must urgently clarify what the criteria are for moving areas between, and especially down, the tiers.
“Finally, Government must now show how they will lift restrictions as the vaccine rolls out.”
Conservative MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland said it was “ridiculous” his area was being moved up.
“Totally unacceptable & clearly shows I was right to vote against a second lockdown & tier system,” he said.
“Government accepted on Monday that tiers should be imposed on a district basis instead of this unbalanced county-wide approach.
Last night NHS bosses warned that no areas should go down a Tier at the moment.
NHS Providers, which represents the 216 NHS acute, ambulance, community and mental health trusts in England, wrote to Mr Johnson warning of a third wave.
Urging “extreme caution” on moving areas down a tier, organisation officials said: “Trust leaders are worried that if infection rates remain as high as they are the moment, relaxing the restrictions will trigger a third wave.”
The PM was warned to expect riots if cities with low Covid rates remain in Tier 3.
One political insider in the Midlands told The Sun: “If they don’t come out of Tier 3 there will be riots. They have brought their rates down immeasurably, there is no reason for them not to come out.”