UK votes for tier-based lockdown as health minister says coronavirus ‘under control’



Parliamentarians in the UK voted on Tuesday in the House of Commons to approve the government’s tier-based lockdown, as the country’s health minister said the novel coronavirus was “back under control” but required vigilance.

The new measures were supported by 291 votes to 78.

Several MPs from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, however, rebelled to vote against the move.

A handful of Opposition Labour MPs are also thought to have defied the party stand of abstention to vote against the changes.

Earlier, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock attempted to rally lockdown sceptics at a Downing Street briefing on Monday evening, when he reiterated the need for a regional system of tiers which come in force after England’s current nationwide lockdown ends on Wednesday.

“While we can let up a little, we can’t afford to let up a lot,” said Hancock.

“We’ve reduced pressures on the NHS, we’ve brought down the number of coronavirus cases, we have got this virus back under control. The success of our collective efforts means that from Wednesday, everyone in England, even those in tier three, can have some greater freedoms–but we don’t have much headroom,” he said.

England’s new system—due to replace the national lockdown when it expires on Wednesday—will see regions placed in one of three tiers: medium, high and very high.

Nearly all of England will be in the highest two tiers, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly, will be in the lowest tier.

Many Conservative Party MPs remain opposed to the new measures despite Boris Johnson’s several interventions to placate his party colleagues, including the anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group (CRG).

Tim Loughton, one of the Tory backbenchers planning on voting against the government, said there were too many inconsistencies within the tier system.

“We can’t afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast to let it out of control again,” said Johnson, as he admitted the tiering system is tough.

“What we can’t do is forsake and abandon all the gains we have made now, just when we are seeing real progress in the science,” he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he had serious misgivings about the government’s plans–but said it was in the national interest not to vote against them to ensure some restrictions remained in place.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said a further 12,330 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, while a further 205 deaths had been reported within 28 days of a positive test, taking the death toll from the deadly virus to 58,448. (PTI)


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