Prime minister promises "February sunset" for coronavirus tiers

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to announce new post-lockdown coronavirus measures on Monday, November 23. Photo...

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to announce new post-lockdown coronavirus measures on Monday, November 23. Photo:: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The prime minister says coronavirus restriction plans will "sunset" in February  as he bids to ease resistance from some of his MPs ahead of the re-introduction of tiered coronavirus restrictions.

Boris Johnson sent a letter to Conservative MPs on Saturday ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

A number of Conservative MPs have expressed opposition to the proposals that would see 99pc of the country under stringent restrictions when the national lockdown ends.

Mr Johnson has offered Parliament another chance to vote on the restrictions early next year, saying the legislation will have a "sunset of February 3".

He also said that at the first review of the measures on December 16 he would move areas down a tier where there is "robust evidence" that coronavirus is in sustained decline.

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As part of the first tier review, he will hear the views of local directors of public health, with any changes coming into effect on December 19.

The prime minister said he is committed to providing more data and the changes needed for an area to move down a tier. 

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Mr Johnson, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said he believed Easter would mark a "real chance to return to something like life as normal".

Mr Johnson said: "We are so nearly out of our captivity. We can see the sunlit upland pastures ahead. But if we try to jump the fence now, we will simply tangle ourselves in the last barbed wire, with disastrous consequences for the NHS."

M Johnson said the government will review local areas' tiers every fortnight and bring the regulations before Parliament after the fourth review on January 27 which will determine whether the tier system stays in place until the end of March.

He said: "So let's do the job properly. Let's work together, and with tiering, testing and vaccines let's make 2021 the year we kick Covid out, take back control of our lives and reclaim all the things we love."

Norfolk MPs had mixed reactions to being placed in Tier 2, with north Norfolk MP Duncan Baker saying  it was "hugely disappointing".

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said the caution from the government to avoid a Christmas surge was "understandable" while his Waveney MP colleague Peter Aldous called for a roadmap out of tougher restrictions.

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