Scottish Daily Mail
Lockdown ‘to stay till Easter’
ALMOST all of England is set to be banned from socialising indoors until Easter, officials admitted last night.
The senior sources said it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect areas under the toughest curbs – Tiers Two and Three – to move down to Tier One before spring.
Under a ‘virtual lockdown’ revealed on Thursday, 99 per cent of England’s population was put in the top two tiers, which ban household gatherings and cripple the hospitality trade.
Tory backbenchers accused the Government of risking catastrophic damage to the economy. One predicted that more than 50 party MPs would rebel in a Commons showdown next week.
Boris Johnson may now have to rely on Labour votes to win backing for his toughened-up tier system. The disaffected MPs want regular votes on which tiers areas are put in.
‘My fear is the tiers are going to become like a purgatory with no escape,’ said William Wragg, who is chairman of the Commons public administration committee. ‘It is vital there is a clear path for areas to emerge from tighter tiered restrictions.
‘We cannot have families, communities and businesses left in limbo.’
Mr Johnson acknowledged people in England felt ‘frustrated’, particularly in areas with low infection rates that now face tough restrictions. But he refused to adopt a more localised system, saying it was ‘too difficult to divide the country up into loads and loads of very complicated sub-divisions’.
MPs will vote on Tuesday on the new system of tiers, which the Government has said it expects to remain in place until the end of March.
Sir David Amess last night said he expects ‘more than 50’ fellow Tory MPs will vote against the Government.
Officials expect some areas to shift between Tiers Two and Three, although this is unlikely before Christmas.
However, a senior source yesterday said it would be ‘surprising’ if areas in Tier Two saw a big enough fall in rates to move down to Tier One until there is a vaccine.
Government officials have warned that December and January will be the ‘most difficult’ in the fight against the virus as Covid-19 spreads more easily in winter.