Fury in quiet villages plunged into Tier 2 or 3 despite very low coronavirus rates

Burford, Oxfordshire, has a population around 1,000 and is in Tier 2 (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

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Boris Johnson's draconian tier system means parts of England with hardly any coronavirus cases – including many countryside picture postcard villages – are being plunged into Tiers 2 and 3.

The Prime Minister reportedly faces a mutiny from up to 70 Tory MPs after laying out which areas would be subject to which tiers, with only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly in Tier 1 – amounting to 714,000 people.

In a huge beefing up of the maligned tier system that failed to stem the second wave, 99% of the country was put in Tiers 2 and 3.

The PM insisted that "your tier is your own destiny" and that areas will be able to move down the tier system.

But Professor Chris Whitty indicated that Tier 2 measures are unlikely to reduce infections, while reports suggest the tiers will be fixed until mid-January when the impact of the Christmas window is fully known.

Jurassic Coast beach at West Bay, which has recorded no cases is in Tier 2
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

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The move has sparked fury in isolated rural spots across the country, angry at being lumped in with their wider regions where case rates are higher, resulting in arguably unnecessarily heavy restrictions.

Penshurst in Kent, for example, has only had three cases in the last week but must contend with a Tier 3 lockdown.

West Bay, the Dorset fishing village where TV drama Broadchurch was shot, meanwhile, is the only place in England with no positive cases since March.

Yet indoor socialising is banned and pubs that don't serve meals must remain closed with the region in Tier 2.

Dorset MP Conor Burns told the Daily Mail : "It is very unfair. Because we have a slightly older demographic, people have been very sensible and cautious – but we are now being given tighter controls."

Penshurst in Kent has had only had three cases in the last but must contend with Tier 3
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Just 1% of England has escaped still in Tier 1

Meanwhile, villages in Lancashire's Ribble Valley are in Tier 3 despite recording just 117 new cases in the week up to November 22.

Higher rates in the likes of Preston, Burnley and Blackburn meant the whole county has suffered the same fate.

"That people can't go and sit and have a meal with their own family, sitting apart from the next table, is madness," said parish council chairman and farmer Hayden Fortune, who is not aware of any cases in his local village. "It is killing these villages."

Only eight people have tested positive in the village of East Ogwell which is in Tier 2
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Boris Johnson defended the tier system at a Downing Street press briefing on Thursday
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Sue Lord, of the Coach and Horses in Bolton-by-Bowland, added to the Mail: "Out here in the country we're a world apart."

Similarly, Burford, Oxfordshire, has a population of around 1,000 and is in Tier 2 despite West Oxfordshire recording just 87 cases in the week up to November 21.

Burford Mayor John White said he feared for small businesses in the medieval town.

Only eight people have tested positive in the village of East Ogwell, which has a population of 855, but it has been put in Tier 2 regardless.

Mr Johnson said that the harsher measures would "open a path for areas to move down the scale, as soon as the situation improves", pointing to mass testing being the key to "accelerate that moment of escape".

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, however, put the dampeners on the prospect of widespread easing prior to Christmas, arguing "almost certainly anywhere that goes into Tier 1” will experience a rise in cases".

He said the Government could only risk dropping areas into the bottom tier if they're "very confident indeed", with winter being a notoriously difficult time for the already stretched NHS.

Professor Whitty added that only when vaccines are rolled out next year could the country "little by little" begin to "walk out of this down the tiers".

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