Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said rules that previously only applied to a few areas – like a 9pm cut-off time for buying alcohol – could be extended to the whole of Tier 3
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Buying alcohol from shops could be banned after a certain time in areas worst-hit by coronavirus, a Cabinet minister has hinted.
Robert Jenrick said the cut-off time was one of a string of measures that could be “embedded” into any area of England that goes into Tier 3.
It comes as ministers are braced to “strengthen” the tier system when England’s month-long lockdown ends and goes back to tiers on December 2.
Under the previous rules, the worst-hit Tier 3 areas only had a basic menu of closures then chose an “a-la-carte” menu on top.
Nail bars, saunas, tattoo and piercing parlours, and tanning salons all had to shut too, and shisha was banned from hospitality venues.
Today Cabinet minister Mr Jenrick confirmed some of those a-la-carte Tier 3 measures could become part of the main menu next month.
That could mean, for example, that a 9pm cut-off time for selling alcohol applies to any area that goes into Tier 3.
Mr Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: “The Tier 3 that we had before was just considered a baseline.
“And then we did ask local areas whether they would be willing to go further and some did.
“My own area of Nottinghamshire, the local council chose to go over and above and limit the sale of alcohol for off-licences and so on after a certain time, so that people didn’t go home and have parties or drink alcohol on the streets.
“So there were some tweaks to the tiers that you’re seeing in some parts of the country and it’s that sort of thing that we now need to consider.
“Was that a sensible move? If so, should we embed that in the new tier structure?”
Council leaders had previously asked for a cut-off on shops selling alcohol to help enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
They feared people were flocking to buy alcohol from supermarkets or off-licences and then going back to each other’s houses to drink.
Mr Jenrick said no decisions had been taken about the future tier system, but they would happen “in the next week or so”.
He said ministers are “reviewing the tiers” and “considering what are those tiers, what are the sensible measures that should be part of them, and what sort of geographies should we be thinking about putting the country into.”
He added: “We will be looking at whether the measures we had in the old tiers were effective.”
Under the old system, Tier 1 imposed the rule of six on gatherings and forced pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm.
Tier 3 banned all social gatherings, indoors or out, other than in public spaces – and told people not to travel out of the area.
But Susan Hopkins, a Public Health England advisor on Covid-19, last night said Tier 1 had shown ‘very little effect’.
She said Tier 3 “had an effect of reducing the number of cases in the north west”, but Tier 2 was only working in some areas.
She added: “I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone.”
Reports suggest ministers are still hoping to relax restrictions temporarily at Christmas to allow families to get together.
SAGE papers have suggested ministers can afford to relax the rules temporarily – but only if Covid-19 is “low and controlled” already.
Asked by LBC if he’d be having a Christmas together with extended family, Mr Jenrick replied: “I hope so”.
News – Buying alcohol could be banned after certain time in areas worst hit by Covid-19