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What should we make of the new tier system?

The new tier system started in England on 2 December after nearly a month spent in the country’s second national lockdown. It was described by Boris Johnson as ‘tough restrictions’ in order to balance having a winter with cases under control, yet not retreating into a complete hibernation. But as most of the country are in tier 2 or 3, many have questioned the approach from the government, raising fears that it is too harsh, and further exasperates an already class divided country. So, are the new tiers too restrictive, or are they the only way to get us through the remainder of the pandemic before the vaccine arrives?

One of the big reasons Boris Johnson emphasised a need for tougher restrictions is because as we come into winter, this is the ideal breeding ground for Covid cases to rise and leave it to once again get out of control. We already know that Covid transmits easiest in cold, damp places and indoors, which is where most people will be. What’s obvious from the last tier system is that it simply didn’t work. Areas that went into tier 2 ended up in tier 3, and areas in tier 3 stayed there until we went into the second lockdown. So, it’s reassuring to see that the government have finally learned from one of their mistakes and have made the tiers more restrictive so they work at getting areas into lower tiers. 

It’s reassuring to see that the government have finally learned from one of their mistakes and have made the tiers more restrictive so they work at getting areas into lower tiers

With the vaccine on the horizon to help us, it also might act as an incentive for people to comply with the last stretch of rules before they’re hopefully all removed. With this being said, it could be easy to question whether the public have any incentive at all to keep following rules set by the government. With all the mixed messaging, the failed attempts at test and trace, along with their own government officials not following the rules, the public are clearly losing a lot of trust in the government. And with a lack of trust, comes a lack of compliance.

Another factor that has clearly played a part in the new tier system is Christmas. As we all saw, the government made the political decision to put the science to one side to allow up to three households to meet for five days over Christmas. What’s obvious is that now the government are openly allowing household to mix, the one thing that ensures a spread of the virus, it’s down to them to try and limit the damage of this decision. While they may believe that people ‘deserve’ to have time away from the measures over Christmas, in order to help with their mental health, a lot of the public disagree. 

It’s clear that this decision wasn’t led by the science, like they said their decisions have always been, and a lot of people think that with the vaccine in sight, it’s blows all their efforts of containing the virus out of the water. One thing that would be interesting to know is how much of an impact this has really had on the new tier system; Is it a way of getting the numbers down before Christmas so the deaths aren’t horrific, or would the measures have been this harsh regardless? Maybe people would be even more against the opening up over Christmas if they knew a more restrictive tier system was the price they were paying for it.

What’s obvious is that now the government are openly allowing household to mix, the one thing that ensures a spread of the virus, it’s down to them to try and limit the damage of this decision

While it’s reported the R number has dropped below one in England, a lot of people are confused why their area has come out of a nationwide lockdown in a worse tier than when they started. We were told before we went into the lockdown that we would be out of it by 2 December, and while this may be technically true, many feel like this isn’t exactly what they had in mind. With most of the country in tier 2 and 3 it feels like they are still in the lockdown, and them staying at home was all for nothing. As was the case before, there’s also a clear tier divide between the north and the south which further solidifies the thought that the government are leaving the north and people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds behind to purposefully disadvantage them.

With all this being said, these tiers are clearly here to stay for next few months until the vaccine can protect enough of society. And despite the criticisms I’m sure most people are in consensus hope that it does work in order to save lives and to keep the most vulnerable safe up until they can be fully protected.

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