Boris Johnson has had to defend his new COVID-19 rules after fierce criticism from the hospitality sector and a growing number of his own party MPs.
New measures announced yesterday placed 55mln people in England in either Tier-2 or Tier-3, the highest risk category for COVID-19 infections.
The prime minister said the new measures were a relaxation of the national lockdown that ends on December 2, and that the first review on 16 December would enable “the prospect of areas being able to move down the tier scale”.
Pub and restaurant owners though reacted angrily to the restrictions placed on them by the new rules.
“In reality, the government has extended a form of lockdown, by stealth, in large swathes of the country.”
Clive Watson, executive chairman of London and the South-focused City Pub Group Plc (LON:CPC) added: “‘Whilst we expected London to be in tier 2 to see areas such as Norfolk to be bumped up into the same tier 2 is really disappointing.
“The Government’s announcement today will be many pubs final nail in the coffin and makes a bleak Xmas even worse.”
News today that the ‘R’ rate, which measures the rate of growth of coronavirus infections, had fallen below 1 again for the first time since August is likely to add to the frustration across the country.
‘R’ represents how many extra people each person infected passes it to and a number below 1 means incidences of the virus are dropping.
Britain’s infections growth rate also shrunk to between -2% and 0% according to the latest updates.
A group of Tory MPs is threatening to revolt against the new lockdown measures in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.
If Labour and other opposition parties decide to back their move it will need a rebellion of 43 Tories to defeat the tiers plan.
The Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, which claims 70 members, has threatened to vote against and deputy chairman Steve Baker called the new measures “truly appalling”.
Separately, Wales is also tightening its restrictions, its First Minister said today.
Mark Drakeford said from next week cinemas, bowling alleys and indoor venues would close with new measures for the whole hospitality industry to be agreed over the weekend.