England ‘could see Tier 4 restrictions’ with restaurants closing if cases rise

England is only just getting used to the new three-tiered social distancing system, but a fourth tier could reportedly be added if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

The Government is said to be considering an extra layer of "Tier 4" restrictions for some areas as the second wave of Covid-19 surges across the country.

The measures, harsher than any currently in place in England, would reportedly see restaurants and "non-essential" shops close.

Ministers will decide whether or not to introduce a Tier 4 next month after analysing the effectiveness of the current system, inews reports.

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But that's not the only option on the table as the Government desperately tries to get the nation's R rate below one by Christmas.

Alternatives could include a "Tier Three-Plus" strategy as well as the deployment of local short-term circuit breaker lockdowns.

Labour councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for public health and social care in Liverpool, said action will need to be taken if rates of coronavirus infection show no signs of improving soon.

"We know from the first wave that infection levels can rise very rapidly and they come down quite slowly, we could well find ourselves in a situation where R has drifted down but absolute numbers were not," he told inews.

"If the numbers don't significantly improve, no doubt we will be revisiting exactly the same questions about whether further restrictions are going to be necessary to drive the levels down.

"That is the argument for a short sharp shock."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hasn't ruled out a second national lockdown but has repeatedly stressed it's the least desirable option due to the economic damage done by the last one, as well as the impact on children's education.

This week saw the UK's biggest-ever daily rise in cases, with 26,688 positive Covid-19 tests recorded on Wednesday.

On Friday, Wales began its 17-day "firebreak" lockdown in an attempt to lower the country's number of cases, with all non-essential business closed, secondary schools going online and household mixing banned.

Northern Ireland is also in a four-week partial lockdown.

Meanwhile Scotland will enter its own five-tiered lockdown system on November 2, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday.

A total of 854,010 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, with the death toll standing at 44,745.

It comes after a top scientist warned the NHS will be "unable to cope" with the rapid spread of coronavirus infections within a month.

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