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Boris Johnson has warned that the coronavirus outbreak in the UK could lead to a third national lockdown. The Prime Minister praised the country for “preventing” the NHS from becoming “overwhelmed”, but added that the “dangers” were still present. He used data on the growth of COVID-19 cases in different areas of the nation to explain why restrictions could not be “eased off” now.
Mr Johnson said: “We now have reason to hope that by spring, community testing and vaccines will combine to end this era of restrictions.
“But to get there, we must first navigate a hard winter when the burden on our NHS is heaviest and the cold weather favours the virus.
“The data already suggests that national measures in England have slowed, and in some places, reversed the growth of new cases.
“As more data comes in, we hope and expect to see those trends continue.”
He continued: “Together we have prevented our NHS from being overwhelmed, but those dangers have not gone away.
“If we ease off now, we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard-won gains and forcing us back into a new year national lockdown.
“The tough measures in our winter plan are the best way to avoid this outcome.
“All our friends around the world are grappling with the same question of how to keep people safe without retreating into a winter of hibernation.”
The Prime Minister pointed to the nightly curfew in Italy and the closure of hospitality until late December in Germany as examples.
He then went on to explain that the winter plan involved England returning to a tiered system of local restrictions.
The Government has already announced that Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham will be placed under strengthened Tier 3 restrictions once the national lockdown ends.
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In contrast, Liverpool will be moving down into Tier 2 restrictions after living under Tier 3 for months.
London will also remain at Tier 2 once the national lockdown ends.
The Prime Minister insisted that the decisions were based on public health advice, according to five indicators.
This includes cases across all ages, especially the over-60s, the rate by which cases are rising or falling, the percentage of those tested in a local population who have COVID and the pressure on the NHS.
From December 2, most of England will be in the top two tiers with the toughest measures.
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