Additional coronavirus restrictions might be launched in England akin to a “tier 5” lockdown, a authorities supply has advised, as consultants warn the present curbs may not be sufficient to shrink the epidemic.
Tier 4 restrictions got here into power in London and elements of the south-east and the east of England on 20 December and have since been extended to a swathe of the nation, from Cambridgeshire to Sussex and elements of Hampshire.
Under these restrictions, individuals have been instructed to remain at residence, with family mixing banned outdoors help bubbles, though one individual can meet up with one different individual outdoor.
With the incubation interval for the virus lasting up to 14 days, consultants say the impression of such measures in some areas could be anticipated to be seen within the coming days – though the image could also be muddied by delays in testing and reporting of outcomes due to the Christmas break.
Nonetheless, an evaluation of the unfold of the brand new, extremely transmissible coronavirus variant by consultants on the London Faculty of Hygiene and Tropical Medication, released this month, warned that even when the entire of England had been positioned underneath tier 4 restrictions on Boxing Day till the tip of January, the R worth wouldn’t fall beneath 1.
Now, it appears, there might be plans to introduce even stricter measures to attempt to hold the virus underneath management.
According to the Mirror, a Whitehall supply has mentioned the tier 4 guidelines don’t seem like working, including that the federal government may introduce “one other stage on to tier 4, so like a tier 5”.
Whereas no particulars have been launched as to what such a tier may appear like, or whether or not it might even be referred to as “tier 5”, one risk is that the tighter measures may embrace closing faculties for almost all of pupils and shifting schooling on-line.
“I can’t see every other possibility for getting the virus underneath management,” mentioned Prof Susan Michie, a member of the federal government’s Covid-19 behavioural science staff that feeds into Sage, in addition to the Unbiased Sage group of consultants – though she famous that she had not heard any direct proof such a transfer was to be made.
The transfer to shut faculties has been backed by Dr Nick Davies, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which additionally feeds into Sage, and an creator of the current evaluation.
“If our parameter estimates are right … it looks like [tier 4] alone isn’t sufficient, so one thing else may should be executed on prime of that. And we’ve checked out college closures as a result of that’s form of the following apparent factor to do on prime of these restrictions,” he mentioned.
Faculties closed for almost all of pupils through the first lockdown within the spring, whereas the opposite restrictions included the edict to enterprise outdoors solely as soon as a day for train, go away residence just for necessities, and for all non-essential retailers and locations of worship to shut.