We are increasingly seeing the argument that the combination of available vaccines and a more infectious virus mean we should lockdown harder for ‘just a little longer’ as the vaccine rollout gathers pace. This is offered as the only way to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. Tier 5 is looming.

What is Tier 5?
But what does this mean? What would Tier 5 entail? Tier 4 now covers most of England and is strikingly similar to the Spring national lockdown. The delay to school re-opening (including primary schools in some areas) has effectively introduced a higher tier of restrictions which take households in those areas further back towards the Spring restrictions. Even highly resourced professional sport seems to be struggling to maintain secure bubbles and may need a ‘circuit break’. So how much more scope do we have for restrictions? Curfews? Outdoor face coverings? Maybe, but it seems that even the architect of the UK lockdown, Professor Ferguson doesn’t see much left likely to have any real impact beyond closing schools. The fact is that in the UK, even the closure of all the things we deem non-essential still leaves a lot of people moving around. Someone has to staff the hospitals, and the supermarket, and make the deliveries, and repair infrastructure etc etc. It turns out that in our society we have a first world definition of ‘essential’, which means it’s quite a long list. But even if we aren’t able to lockdown to the degree a zero COVID strategy would require, the argument is increasingly made that we should strengthen our restrictions as far as we can tolerate for another few months. …

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