No new tier system as regional restrictions ruled out for easing lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus

Prime minister Boris Johnson will make a statement to Parliament and give a televised press conference - Credit: PA

Coronavirus restrictions in Suffolk will not be lifted faster or slower than elsewhere - as the prime minister prepares to unveil a "cautious" plan to ease the current lockdown.

Boris Johnson is to set out a roadmap on Monday for how England will come out of the current rules, with his cabinet meeting in the morning to discuss the plan before he makes a statement to parliament in the afternoon.

When the country came out of the second lockdown last year, a regional tier system was put in place - where different parts of the country had different levels of restrictions, depending on infection rates locally.

Suffolk started off in Tier 2 and had hoped for the lowest Tier 1 level, until case numbers rose sharply and it was put into Tier 4 before the national lockdown.

However, in a press statement ahead of the prime minister's televised press conference tomorrow night, Downing Street said: "Due to the current, relatively uniform spread of the virus across the country, restrictions will be eased step-by-step across the whole of England at the same time."

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Mr Johnson will outline four tests that must be met to justify easing lockdown restrictions - successful roll-out of the Covid vaccine, evidence the vaccine is reducing hospitalisations and deaths due to coronavirus, no risk of a surge in pressure on the NHS and no new variants of the virus which cause concern.

Those four tests are currently being met, meaning the first step of lockdown easing can begin on Monday, March 8.

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What exactly that will mean is unclear at the moment, but Downing Street said in the statement: "Outdoor settings are known to be lower risk than indoor, so outdoor activities will be opened earlier than indoor ones."

Mr Johnson said: "Our priority has always been getting children back into school, which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.   

“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe."

MPs will have an opportunity to vote on the regulations that will enable this roadmap in Parliament in the coming weeks.

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