Lockdown or not? It’s decision time in Britain

Health minister says coronavirus is under control

Aditi KhannaUpdated: Tuesday, December 01, 2020, 10:56 PM IST
article-image
PIC: AFP

Boris Johnson pleaded with mutinous Tories to back the 'compelling' case for his new tiers on Tuesday amid claims of back-room deals and promises, reports the Daily Mail

The PM struck a compromise tone as he opened the debate ahead of a crunch vote Tuesday evening, with up to 100 thought to be ready to rebel.

According to Daily Mail report, in a key signal, he insisted that the government will be 'sensitive' to local situations - hinting that areas with low infection rates will not be lumped together in future with other nearby hotspots. He said the next review on December 16 will be conducted based on 'as much granular detail as we can'. 'We will try to be a sensitive as possible to local effort and local achievement,' he said.

He also announced that 'wet' pubs - which rely on drinks to make their living - will be entitled to £1,000 payments to help them get through this month.

Meanwhile, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock attempted to rally lockdown sceptics at a Downing Street briefing on Monday evening, reiterating the need for a regional system of tiers, which come in force after England's current nationwide lockdown ends on Wednesday.

"While we can let up a little, we can't afford to let up a lot," said Hancock.

"We've reduced pressures on the NHS (National Health System), we've brought down the number of coronavirus cases, we've got this virus back under control. The success of our collective efforts means that from Wednesday, everyone in England, even those in tier three, can have some greater freedoms - but we don't have much headroom," he said.

In the new system, regions will be placed in one of three tiers: medium, high and very high.

Nearly all of England will be in the highest two tiers, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly will be in the lowest tier.

Many Conservative Party MPs are opposed to the new measures and are likely to vote against the move in the House of Commons on Tuesday, despite UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's several interventions to placate party colleagues, including the anti-lockdown COVID Recovery Group (CRG).

One of the Tory backbenchers planning on voting against the government, Tim Loughton, said there were "too many inconsistencies" within the tier system.

"We can't afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast... to let it out of control again," said Johnson, as he admitted the "tiering system is tough".

"What we can't do is forsake and abandon all the gains we have made now just when we are starting to see real progress in the science," he said.

With Opposition parties Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) abstaining from the vote, the latest measures are expected to pass the parliamentary hurdle.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he had "serious misgivings" about the government's plans, but added that it would be "in the national interest" not to vote against them to ensure some restrictions remained.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said a further 12,330 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, while a further 205 deaths had been reported within 28 days of a positive test, taking the death toll from the deadly virus to 58,448.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai updates: Due to Dahihandi festivities, five roads in Dadar to remain closed for traffic

Mumbai updates: Due to Dahihandi festivities, five roads in Dadar to remain closed for traffic

‘Tu Bhi Lad Sakta Hai?’: When angry Rahul Dravid left Shoaib Akhtar surprised during...

‘Tu Bhi Lad Sakta Hai?’: When angry Rahul Dravid left Shoaib Akhtar surprised during...

Caught on camera: 4-storey building collapses in Borivali's Saibaba Nagar in Mumbai

Caught on camera: 4-storey building collapses in Borivali's Saibaba Nagar in Mumbai

Yuzvendra Chahal's wife Dhanashree Verma rubbishes divorce rumours after changing surname

Yuzvendra Chahal's wife Dhanashree Verma rubbishes divorce rumours after changing surname

Kerala govt seeks cancellation of Civic Chandran's bail in sexual harassment case

Kerala govt seeks cancellation of Civic Chandran's bail in sexual harassment case