Tiers will be downgraded where infection rates drop, says minister

Stringent new coronavirus restrictions are necessary to “bear down” on the pandemic but tiers will be downgraded in areas where the virus is in retreat, Dominic Raab has said.

The Foreign Secretary told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “The reality is that we want to come out of national lockdown and stay out of it.

“There is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel at the prospect of regulatory approval of the vaccine being ready to be in place and distributed by the spring, which will allow a real step-change back to life resembling normal.

“The two things we need between now and then are this tiered approach so that we target the virus where it is the most dangerous.

“We are starting with a more restrictive approach than previously with the localized approach, but that allows us to ease up when we are confident the virus is going down and stabilized – there’s a review every two weeks.

“The second thing is the testing and what we’ve seen, we’ve had 12 million people tested and we’ve seen in Liverpool with the community-wide testing … that really helps us to bear down on the virus.

“Those two things are the crucial bridge to that light at the end of the tunnel in the spring.”

Mr Raab said coronavirus cases would rise exponentially if restrictions were not applied on a wider level, such as across counties.

He told Sky: “Where you’ve got low levels in a particular area but it’s surrounded by areas others with higher levels …

“If you don’t apply on a wider levels – which is why we’re using the countywide basis – the same restrictions, all that happens is the virus in those lower levels… goes up exponentially.”

But asked why that did not apply to Tier 2 London, the Foreign Secretary said: “You’ve got to look at the five principles.”

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