National lockdown a last resort if tier system fails, admits Dominic Raab

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab did not deny that ministers are considering introducing a higher Tier 4 level of coronavirus restrictions in England.

But speaking on Friday, Mr Raab also said the UK Government is "striving to avoid" a French-style national lockdown.

Under the Tier 4 – or Tier 3-plus – restrictions reportedly being discussed, restaurants and non-essential retail such as clothes shops could also be forced to close.

Asked about reports, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're always ready for further measures that we can take. But I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track we're on of targeting the virus."

It comes amid concerns the current tier system does not allow for the closure of schools, so "local circuit breaker" lockdowns are also reportedly being considered for areas tier 3 restrictions have failed to bring the virus under control.

Mr Raab also said the public would find it "desperately unfair" to impose a national lockdown while rates vary across the country.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I think intuitively as well as scientifically if you look at what we're trying to achieve is to focus on where the virus is the strongest or where the uptick is the greatest.

"Also I think in areas where the virus is not picking up I think people would feel it was not only counterproductive or ineffective but desperately unfair for measures to be imposed across the board."

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A decision on Tier 4 could be made by mid-November, when there will be enough data to assess how effective the three tier system has been, a Whitehall source told iNews at the weekend.

Matt Hancock previously said the Government would "rule nothing out" on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions.

The Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast: "We've always said all along that we take nothing off the table."

He added: "We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt."

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Britain has recorded more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day on average over the last week, but the government has resisted a new national lockdown, even as France and Germany reintroduce country-wide restrictions.

Foreign minister Dominic Raab on Friday said a national lockdown in England was not inevitable, adding that though the situation was serious, he was confident in the government's approach.

"We've seen some evidence since we started putting in place this tiered approach that the rate of increase has slowed," Raab told BBC TV, adding it was important that local rules were followed.

"That is the way we avoid the more drastic measures that we don't want to take because of the impact they would have on the economy."

The Foreign Secretary told Radio 4: "France of course tried a localised approach and then fell back on a national approach.

"What I think that shows, Germany is the same, how important it is that we all rally together at local level through to national level… Communities, local leaders, national leaders, and really lean in to the localised focus approach.

"[It's] the most effective way to tackle the virus and avoid the blanket approach, which I don't think would be in the best interest of this country, and which we are striving to avoid."

  • Lockdown

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