Fresh plans are being drawn up to add an even stricter level of restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Swathes of the North have been plunged into Tier 3 local lockdowns in recent weeks, which has seen pubs and bars close and a ban enforced on different households meeting.

Parts of the North-East have also been in discussions with government officials amid worries about rising rates.


And now, officials in Whitehall are considering adding a fourth tier to the Government's existing system, which rates local alert levels under medium, high and very high.

What is tier 4 lockdown?

The plans aren't yet official but it is understood discussions are underway among officials in Whitehall and local authorities for a "plan B" to drive Covid-19 infection rates down if the current three-tiered lockdown system fails to work, iNews reported.

Under tier 3 restrictions, pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals are required to close, as are casinos, adult gaming centres, and soft play centres.

Non-essential shops can remain open under tier three restrictions.

Coronavirus tier system: What are the rules - and what areas do they cover?

Tier four restrictions could mean even restaurants and non-essential shops are forced to close.

Schools will not be permitted to close under any potential tier-four measures, it is believed.

On Monday morning, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said the Government would “rule nothing out” on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast he said: “We’ve always said all along that we take nothing off the table.

“Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.

“The problem is it’s still going up, and while it’s still going up we’ve got to act to get it under control.

“We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we’re working to and it’s effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn’t brought this curve to a halt.”

The Northern Echo:

When could extra restrictions be put in place?

It's reported that new restrictions could be introduced in November.

Fears are now growing that the R-rate will not drop below Christmas in tier three areas - piling pressure on the government to unveil a new strategy.

Whitehall officials believe that it would be clear by the middle of November, two to three weeks after the first tier three measures were introduced, whether the restrictions had made any difference to case numbers.

Local leaders in tier three regions have reportedly been told that social contacts need to be cut by 60 per cent - the equivalent of bringing the R-rate down from 1.6 to below 1.