Dominic Raab refuses to deny possibility of tier 4 Covid restrictions


The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has refused to deny that ministers are considering introducing a higher tier 4 level of coronavirus restrictions, less than three weeks after the launch of the three-tier lockdown model.

Officials are reportedly drawing up plans for an extra layer of measures forcing restaurants and non-essential shops to close in parts of England with the highest infection rates.

Asked whether a new tier 4 was being considered, Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “We’re always ready for further measures that we can take. But I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track we’re on of targeting the virus.”

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.
  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.
  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.
  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.
  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.
  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.

Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Ministers are under increasing pressure to announce a nationwide circuit breaker as hospital admissions in badly hit parts of the country exceed the height of the first wave.

Raab, who in effect is Boris Johnson’s number two, insisted the “overwhelming scientific advice” to the government was that local lockdowns were “the right way to go”.

He said the government was “striving to avoid” a second national lockdown despite France, Germany and Wales announcing similar countrywide measures in recent days.

He told Sky News that the idea of “a short, sharp circuit breaker is frankly something of an enigma” and that those calling for one had not set out the exit route from a national intervention.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advised five weeks ago that the government should urgently consider a nationwide two-week circuit breaker lockdown – similar to that in spring while keeping most schools open – but this was ignored at the time.

Raab said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “the overwhelming scientific advice to us is targeted measures are the right way to go if you take them and you’re committed to them”.

He added: “The arbitrariness of a blanket approach would be far worse than the effects of trying to be as targeted as possible” and that a localised approach was “fair” and “fits the natural justice that we’re focusing on the areas where the uptick is the greatest”.



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