Indoor socialising could still be banned after lockdown ends in England

Indoor socialising could be banned throughout winter, even if England’s national lockdown is lifted.

The tiered system of restrictions will need to be changed to prevent indoor socialising over winter, according to one of the government’s key scientific advisers.

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What did they say?

Medical director of Public Health England, Susan Hopkins, said ministers need to look at strengthening the tiered system.

Dr Hopkins, who is also chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said the Tier 1 restrictions, which were the baseline of restrictions, had “very little effect.”

She commented, “As we start seeing cases decline, then we can start making a judgement about what are the right decisions that we make and what are the opening up decisions that happen on December 2.”

Dr Hopkins noted that Tier 3 of the local restrictions had proven to be relatively effective, and Tier 2 had been successful in some areas, though not so much in others.

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She added, “We see very little effect from Tier 1. And I think when we look at what tiers may be there in future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccines are available for everyone.”

Will lockdown be extended?

Dr Hopkins’ statement comes after Boris Johnson told a group of Conservative MPs from the North of England yesterday that the national restrictions will end on 2 December, saying his plan is to reopen “as much as possible” when lockdown comes to an end.

It’s thought that ministers are hoping to be able to waive the current restrictions temporarily over the Christmas period. However, the government’s scientific advisory group on emergencies (SAGE) has made clear that this can only happen if case numbers drop substantially.

When asked about an extension of lockdown during press appearances, both Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick have said it is “too early” to make any commitments.