Tier 4 to stay 'for some time', MPs warn ahead of government review

It is now mandatory to wear a face mask in shops and supermarkets in England Picture: SARAH LUCY BRO

Suffolk and Essex have been in Tier 4 since Boxing Day - Credit: Archant

MPs have warned Suffolk and north Essex could remain in strict Tier 4 coronavirus measures "for some time" ahead of the government's review of the system on Wednesday.

A "significant" reduction in Covid-19 infection rates is likely to be needed for restrictions to be lifted, leaders have said, with little expectation that Suffolk's or Essex's tier will be changed.

Government scientists are expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss the effectiveness of the tier system, infection rates across the country and pressures on the NHS.

Suffolk and Essex were only placed into lockdown-style Tier 4 measures from Boxing Day, after the government opted to raise the tiers early in a bid to curb the spread of a new strain of Covid-19.

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, raised hope that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which could be approved by the regulator within days, could be the key to lifting restrictions.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the vaccine rollout could help lift restrictions - Credit: Archant

He said: "I don't think it's likely that we will go down a tier - the numbers haven't really improved here or nationally.

"I expect the main thrust in the review will be that more other areas will go into Tier 4.

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"If there is a significant change in the numbers then the government may make a change. But that will be guided by science.

"The big challenge in the new year will be getting the vaccine out locally."

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge added: "Any realistic assessment would suggest we are extremely unlikely to exit Tier 4 imminently.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said he does not expect the tier to change - Credit: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE

"The important thing is we await updates on what happens with schools.

"My message is that we should knuckle down as we will likely have Tier 4 restrictions for some time.

"If we do that, we can relieve the pressures on our hospitals."

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, said the Tier 4 measures were "killing" the economy - particularly the hospitality industry - but said the government must follow scientific advice.

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, urged for the measures to be reviewed daily Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, urged for the measures to be reviewed daily Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS - Credit: Archant

He said: "I have been looking at the figures and there has been a big increase in our area.

"I've always been striving to keep out tier as low as possible. I want to keep it as brief as possible as it's killing the economy.

"People will still have to behave and follow the rules. This is crippling the economy and people's lives.

"But we have to follow the science."