JUST under half the population are under the strictest 'tier' restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19 and all its strains in the UK.
However, with the daily infection rate climbing, many are now speculating if a tier 5 is on the horizon. If another tier was to be added, here's what some people think it might look like.
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What could 'tier 5' restrictions be?
Nobody knows for certain what a "tier 5" would entail – or if the government would even need anything tougher than tier 4.
However, a senior Whitehall source told the Express: “We are ruling nothing out, the new strain is of serious concern. Tier 4 appears to not be strong enough."
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also acknowledged that "it may be necessary to take further action" to stop rising infection levels.
On Christmas Eve, the PM refused to rule out a third lockdown as the death toll surpassed 70,000.
Despite no confirmation, many are guessing that tier 5 could mean a total ban from leaving the house for non-essential reasons.
Under Tier 4, pubs, bars and restaurants are still allowed to operate as a takeaway facility.
Some think a tougher restriction will see these shut – leaving only essential shops open like supermarkets and pharmacies.
Under tier 4, you can't mix indoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble – but you can meet one person outside in a public place like a park.
It's predicted that if another tougher tier was to be introduced then this luxury would banned.
Some have even been pointing towards Italy's initial lockdown, which saw people banned from even going for a walk outdoors.
In the England's tier 4, you can leave home for ‘permitted reasons’ like travelling to work or education.
But many are wondering what will happen if the cases keep shooting up – will working from home, and school closures become compulsory?
Politco has reported that health experts advised the Prime Minister to assert stronger measures, including closing secondary schools as well as pubs and non-essential shops.
However, for now, nothing is for certain.
Which areas are under tier 4?
Six million more people moved into Tier 4 on Boxing Day, after those already under the tightest coronavirus restrictions celebrated a Covid Christmas.
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire moved into Tier 4, created in response to a "highly concerning" variant of Covid-19 discovered in the UK and a new contagious strain from South Africa.
These are the areas that are currently under tier 4 lockdown:
- All 32 London boroughs plus City of London
- Berkshire (Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead and West Berkshire)
- Hastings and Rother
- Havant, Gosport and Portsmouth
- Kent and Medway
- Surrey (excluding Waverley)
East of England
- Central Bedfordshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton
- Essex (excluding Tendring, Uttlesford and Colchester)
When is the next lockdown review?
The next formal review of tiering decisions will take place by 30 December 2020, and it will determine if 2021 will be another year locked inside.
The government says it "keeps the data under constant review" and is not afraid to act "to protect local communities".
It says: "Data assessed includes how quickly case rates are going up or down, cases in the over 60s, pressure on the NHS and local circumstances.
"Where regions are densely populated with lots of people travelling between areas, tiers must be targeted at the appropriate level to protect people and control transmission."
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