Wipe away those tiers

How the next step in coronavirus lockdown measures has added to the anger and confusion

The next stage of the coronavirus restrictions have been confirmed and its fair to say most of the country is frustrated. When you look at the stats, its easy to see why.

The entire north east of England has been placed into tier 3, the strictest of the new set of restrictions. This is despite the area having a lower reproduction rate than London, which is in tier 2. If this doesn’t suggest a blatant disregard for areas away from the Westminster bubble, then nothing will.

The tier system has left people angry and confused, with one of the strangest areas being pubs. In tier 3, all pubs are closed except for takeaway services. In tier 2, you can have a drink but only with a substantial meal and tier one is free to just drink but only table service is allowed. The grey area of what a substantial meal is just the latest in a long line of confusing messages produced by the government. For some establishments, it could also be the difference between staying open and closing for good.

With the second ‘lockdown’ coming to an end this week, the effectiveness of it still remains to be seen. Whilst it wasn’t as strict as the first lockdown which began in March, it has still made sure there are many restrictions on day to day life. Some areas will gain more freedom on December 2nd, whereas others will potentially be in the same position right up until Christmas.

It is the proposed plan for Christmas which will likely lead to more bewilderment. Rumours are the four nations will agree to allow for up to three households to mix for five days over the festive period. It will be great for people to spend time with loved ones, but it does have its drawbacks.

What exactly is the point in creating the harsher tier system for a few weeks and then lifting restrictions all over the UK at the end of December? Surely a more eased version of the tiers would have made more sense if the Christmas break was always going to be an option. Add into this the possibility of a third lockdown for the first month of 2021 and you really start to question whether people would have accepted sacrificing Christmas to prevent further restrictions in the coming weeks.

If the new tier system is based on science and statistics, then it definitely isn’t using the R rate number. Areas in England are being punished for the crime of not being London. You try justifying why rural Derbyshire needs more restrictions than central London and maybe people can start to accept their anger as irrational. However, until that happens, then it is perfectly justified.

The divide between the north and south has been opened even further during 2020, with the pandemic highlighting the gulf in financial support. If the attitude of supporting the south and neglecting the north continues, then the divide may soon reach a point of no return.