England may not return to regional coronavirus restrictions when the current lockdown is eased, the prime minister has suggested.
“It may be that a national approach, going down the tiers in a national way, might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally,” Boris Johnson said.
The PM said he was “keeping an open mind” on the subject, adding: “If you look at the way the new variant has taken off across the country, it’s a pretty national phenomenon.
“The charts I see, we’re all sort of moving pretty much in the same sort of way, I mean there are a few discrepancies, a few differences, so it may be that we will go for a national approach but there may be an advantage still in some regional differentiation as well.”
The government is due to set out a roadmap for relaxing lockdown measures in the week beginning 22 February.
Mr Johnson has expressed his hope that children will be able to return to school from 8 March, which would signal the beginning of restrictions being eased.
The tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions, with the severity of measures in a particular area dependent upon the prevalence of the virus there, was introduced by the government in October.
England returned to the system at the conclusion of the country’s second lockdown in December, with the rules toughened up in a number of ways.
Just under three weeks later, the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus prompted the PM to introduce a new Tier 4 level of restrictions and scrap the planned easing of restrictions over Christmas.
The tiered system was once again replaced by a national lockdown, England’s third, on 4 January.