MPs back England’s tougher coronavirus tier system

A new tougher tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England will begin on Wednesday after the plan was approved by MPs.

The measures, which will come into force at 00:01 GMT, were supported by 291 votes to 78.

The new system will see over 55 million people in the country placed into the top two strictest tiers.

But 56 MPs voted against their own government’s plan, rebel sources have told the BBC.

If the figure is confirmed, it will be the largest rebellion Boris Johnson has faced since he became prime minister – ahead of the 44 Tory MPs who voted against the 22:00 curfew rule for pubs in England.

A government spokesman said they welcomed the result, which will “help to safeguard the gains made during the past month and keep the virus under control”.

But they also said the government would “continue to work with MPs who have expressed concerns in recent days”.

Labour MPs were ordered to abstain in the vote, with party leader Sir Keir Starmer saying he recognised restrictions needed to continue, but he was “far from convinced” the new system will work.

He also said help for businesses moving into the toughest tiers was “nowhere near sufficient”.

But 16 Labour MPs are also understood to have defied Sir Keir to vote against the changes, says BBC Newsnight’s Nick Watt.

Three tiers

The government announced last week that its tougher three tiers to tackle the virus would come into force when England’s current lockdown ends in the early hours of Wednesday.

It will allow ministers to place areas into one of three tiers – medium (one), high (two) and very high (three) – but the majority of the population will face the higher range of restrictions.

In tier two, people are not allowed to mix with anyone outside their household or support bubble indoors, although they can socialise in groups of up to six outdoors.

And in tier three, people must not mix with anyone outside their household or support bubble indoors, or at most outdoor venues.

BBC News

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