Scottish Daily Mail

Lock­down ‘to stay till Easter’

- By John Stevens, Eleanor Hay­ward and Daniel Martin Politics · England · Boris Johnson · Arbeidersparty · David Amess

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.

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