England runs the risk of a third wave of coronavirus in the new year if the right balance is not struck on restrictions, Dominic Raab warned, as Downing Street faces an angry rebellion from Conservative MPs on its strengthened measures.
The foreign minister also refused to rule out the prospect of a third national lockdown next year. The Commons will vote on Tuesday on whether to approve the three-tier system replacing the national lockdown.
Boris Johnson wrote to Tory MPs on Saturday in an attempt to ward off a potential rebellion, saying the new regulations will include a “sunset” clause meaning they will expire on February 3, be reviewed fortnightly until then, and will only continue with Members’ approval.
A more in-depth analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of Covid and the steps taken to remove them will also be released ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Johnson said.
When asked if the country could face a third wave in January and February if the process doesn’t work and infection rates rise again, Raab told BBC’s The Andrew Marr on Sunday. One: “Well there is a risk if we don’t get the balance right, but so far the R level is going down, and that’s really important. And that’s why we’re starting with a layered approach, more restrictive than some people would like before. ”
Pressed on whether there could be another national lockdown early next year if the government doesn’t get the behavior it wants from people now and on Christmas, Raab said: “We are doing whatever we can do to avoid that, ”citing the government’s five criteria. to assign level levels.
Explaining the government’s exit strategy from the restrictions, he added, “We are going local, we are aiming for this vaccine to be distributed in the spring. And the two things that are crucial are a multi-level approach, from a position of strength and confidence, with areas descending to the level of restrictions once it is safe and responsible to do so, and testing at the community level… We have seen in Liverpool how this can really be a force for change, they have now come to a lower level and it is a great honor to the authorities who work with the government and frankly to tolerance and endurance of people in this area. We have to see this nationally, this is how we come to spring and a much better place.
The Labor Party is yet to reveal how it will vote on the measures, although Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told Marr: “We very much share the view that public restrictions are needed. ” However, she stressed that the Labor Party was seeking “clarity” on the new tier system and that her party’s support was “not unconditional”.
On Thursday, the government announced that nearly 99% of England’s population will enter the top two levels when the measures are due to take effect on December 2, where stricter restrictions include a ban on indoor mixing between households unless that support bubbles do not exist. There is anger among Tory MPs who argue that the new system is too brutal, lumping entire counties or regions into one level when there are localized distinctions in the prevalence of the virus.
When asked if the government is considering dividing the regions into smaller areas so the restrictions can be lifted sooner, Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Well, we’ll have a review every two weeks and of course there will be, I’m sure, debate it this week. “We’re still looking at everything, but the problem is… you have to get a geographic size efficient enough that you don’t find the smaller enclaves of lower level viruses spreading because they aren’t subject to the zone restrictions. higher level surrounding them. ”