Where’s lockdown exit plan, Boris? London echoes demand for clear strategy to leave Covid tiers

Published: 27 October 2020

Post Desk : Boris Johnson faced growing pressure today to set out a clearer exit strategy from the coronavirus pandemic.

A call by more than 50 Conservative MPs for a route map out of the lockdowns clamped on Northern cities was echoed by pleas in the south and London for more clarity.

More regions woke up today to find themselves being put into the toughest level of restrictions, Tier 3, meaning 8.2 million people in England face complete bans on households mixing.

In key developments:

The number of Covid-19 deaths increased by 60 per cent in a week across the UK, from 474 to 761 in the most recent week, said the Office for National Statistics.
London continued to be sheltered from the worst effects of the second wave. There were 670 Covid deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending October 16, with the north-west the worst hit, increasing from 153 to 229. In London deaths increased by nine to 43.
A government minister hinted that the Prime Minister will expand holiday clubs to settle the free school meal row with football star Marcus Rashford. Business minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested that the Government could “learn from” pilots over the summer.
A scientist urged people to have faith in a vaccine against Covid-19 despite a new study suggesting antibody levels fall “quite rapidly” by over a quarter, implying a risk of being infected again .Professor Wendy Barclay from Imperial, said vaccines worked in different ways, giving grounds for “optimism”.

Community and health leaders in London are now discussing what triggers and levels could see the capital move back from Tier 2 into Tier 1.

The intervention by 55 Tory MPs on the new Northern Research Group created a challenge to Mr Johnson’s policy of regional tiers of restrictions.

Former minister Jake Berry said the public did not yet know how their areas could escape from Tier 3 controls: “What I would like to see on a personal basis is that information provided in an easily digestible consumer-facing, public-friendly way that can show people a route out of these restrictions.”

He called for “consistent and clear data to be published that shows not just council leaders, but also the public and businesses alike, how they are doing in tackling this pandemic”.

The group, which warned the North-South divide risked being widened by the crisis, is big enough to overturn the PM’s majority in a Commons vote.