Chris Whitty admits Tier 3 restrictions on their own will fail to stop virus

Watch: Chris Whitty says Tier 3 rules 'not sufficient' on their own to limit COVID-19

  • Prof Chris Whitty admits base “Tier 3” lockdowns – the most severe under new system – will not work on their own

  • Top COVID adviser says Tier 3 can only restrict virus if further measures are added

  • Prof Whitty “not confident” in basic Tier 3 lockdowns... four hours after they were announced by Boris Johnson

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One of Boris Johnson’s top coronavirus advisers has admitted the new “Tier 3” local lockdowns will not be enough to restrict the virus on their own.

Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, made the admission just four hours after Johnson introduced the three-tier local lockdown system for England.

Whitty, standing next to Johnson at a Downing Street briefing on Monday night, said he was “not confident” the base Tier 3 measures would work on their own.

Under the new system, basic Tier 3 lockdowns will see a ban on households mixing indoors, as well as outdoors at private gardens and hospitality venues. Pubs will be forced to close unless they can operate as a restaurant.

'Not confident': Prof Chris Whitty. (
'Not confident': Prof Chris Whitty. (

However, the government can also choose to impose further closures in Tier 3 areas as long as local leaders agree.

Whitty said Tier 3 lockdowns – which are the most severe under the new system – can only be effective with these additional restrictions.

“I am not confident, and nor is anybody confident, that the Tier 3 proposals for [areas with] the highest rates – if you did the absolute base case and nothing more – would be enough to get on top of it, and that is why there is a lot of flexibility in the Tier 3 level for local authorities… to actually go up that range so they can do significantly more than the absolute base.

“The base will not be sufficient, I think that’s very clearly the professional view, but I think there are quite a lot more things that can be done within that, with local guidance.”

So far, the Liverpool City Region is the only area to have been put in a Tier 3 lockdown.

Johnson announced earlier he had reached an agreement with leaders to also shut gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos on top of the basic restrictions.

But local leaders said the Tier 3 restrictions for the region were imposed.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, tweeted: “It was the government that decided we needed local restrictions in our area... it wasn't local leaders and it's disingenuous for them to indicate otherwise.”

Watch: How will England's three-tier local lockdown system work?

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