TIER 4 may last until April or even longer, Boris Johnson warned last night.
The PM refused to say when he would be able to lift the draconian restrictions placed on three quarters of the country.
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It comes after another 20 million people were put into Tier 4 as of 00.01 this morning – meaning now nearly everyone is under Tier 3 or 4.
But it came on the same day the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab was finally given the green light for approval, meaning vaccinations can be sped up.
And ministers will prioritise everyone getting at least their first jab, before giving everyone their follow-ups.
The PM was asked by ITV’s Robert Peston yesterday whether the UK could start lifting restrictions by April.
Previously Matt Hancock has suggested life can get back to normal by the spring.
He said: “That will depend on how fast we can get the virus under control with tough tiering, with testing, and with rolling out the vaccination programme.
“I am not going to give a deadline.
He warned that Brits may be in Tier 4 – where shops and restaurants are shut – for the long haul. But if the vaccine rollout can be sped up, then it may be lifted sooner.
The PM replied: “If the tiering can work to bring the virus under control, if the vaccine rollout proceeds fast enough and we’re able to inoculate to protect those most vulnerable, then there’s a world in which that date could be brought forward, who knows by how many weeks.
“That’s obviously what we are aiming for.”
Professor Chris Whitty has also said in the past he hoped things would start to lift from Easter.
Shops, indoor activities, gyms and hairdressers will be shut in Tier 4 to stop the Covid spread – and schools in the worst-hit areas are staying closed too.
People in Tier 4 can only meet with one other person outside – and have been told to stay at home unless they have a good reason to be out – such as exercise, school, work or medical appointments.
Areas changing Tiers
To move into Tier 4:
- Leicester City
- Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
- Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
- Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
- Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees )
- North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
- Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
The following local authority areas will move to Tier 3:
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
- Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
- York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)