New plan for ending lockdown as tier system ‘may be scrapped’

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Local lockdown restrictions under the old "tier" system could be scrapped under new proposals drawn up for easing current coronavirus restrictions.

National measures will instead be introduced as part of a three-stage plan for reopening the economy, reports The Mirror.

Schools in England are currently scheduled to return on March 8 and the Government will be closely watching how that impacts the Covid infection rate.

If the R number remains low then Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give the green light to non-essential shops reopening towards the end of March, reports The I.

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The final stage of the plan, the paper says, will be April 2.

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If there is still no significant rise then hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs and hotels could start to be reopened – although social distancing is likely to stay.

A Government official is quoted as saying: "My understanding is the Prime Minister is encouraged by a slew of data coming out that shows the positive impact the current lockdown has had.

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"By March, there's also a good chance that almost, if not all over-50s and younger vulnerable groups would have been given at least their first dose of a vaccine.

"The optimism is increasing at Downing Street and we may well be enjoying a pint in the pub by Easter if the data continues to improve in the coming weeks."

The source also says the Government would like to "do away with the tier system entirely'."

The Prime Minister has pledged to reveal his road map to reopening on February 22 – in time to give schools two weeks notice before accepting pupils again.

Although the vaccine rollout will hit the target of the 15m most vulnerable having their first jab by February 15, and infections and deaths tumbling – the latter two figures remain high.

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There was still 758 deaths recorded on Friday with 15,144 infections.

In a major step forward in the battle against coronavirus, 14,012,224 first doses of the Pfizer and Oxford jabs have been administered.

The total includes more than 500,000 from Thursday, meaning the 15million target should be hit today (Saturday) – 48 hours ahead of schedule.

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