Naga Munchetty, 45, and her BBC Breakfast co-host Charlie Stayt, 58, were joined by Robert Jenrick, 38, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock, unveiled the regional tier set up for when England emerges from a second national lockdown next week. With the likes of Kent making a significant jump from tier one to tier three in the space of four weeks, the BBC presenter wanted to understand how the politicians had come to their decision. In explaining the Government’s updated plan to combat coronavirus, the minister ended up stopping the journalist in her tracks as he talked about the scientific data used.
Munchetty said: “You mentioned the variations between regions. In Kent for example, Tunbridge Wells has a very low number of cases compared to another part of Kent in the Medway towns.
“Yet, the people of Tunbridge Wells who have done everything right, businesses have done everything right, they’re seeing in their immediate area low cases, they are being punished because the data it appears can’t look at more tight regions and there’s almost like a blanket tier.
“So, certain regions are being punished because of one particular high rate – do you see why some businesses will be hard done by?”
Jenrick replied as he shut down the presenter’s claims: “I can see that, but that’s not quite right.
“We are looking at the data at every local authority level, so the lower tier local authorities like your districts or boroughs – we are looking at the data there as well as at higher levels.”
The Housing Minister continued: “We have learnt over the course of the year that sometimes if you try to hive out relatively small areas, that can be counterproductive.
“People inevitably move around for work, perhaps for school, for shopping and that can quickly lead to the virus spreading to those places.
“It’s sensible to look at slightly larger units of geography if you like, and look at the places people move around and their working patterns.”
However, Munchetty hit back as she told the politician: “The downside to that is the example I gave you of Tunbridge Wells and Medway towns 30 miles away.”
Several other regions were placed into Tier 3 restrictions as well as Kent.
These include the city of Manchester and several towns and cities within the West Midlands, including Birmingham.
Several places in the East Midlands, the North West and the North East also face the toughest of social distancing restrictions.
Bristol, Hull and many areas of Yorkshire will also enter into Tier 3 by the end of next week to drive down the rate of coronavirus.
The restrictions for Tier 3 have changed, however, with retail and the likes of hairdressers and gyms are able to stay open.
Members of the public will be able to meet with other households, but only in a large outdoor space and adhering to the rule of six.
Like tier two, mixing indoors is banned and restaurants, pubs and bars have to close their doors and operate as a takeaway service.
Assessment on regional tiers will be conducted every two weeks, with the next review set to take place by mid-December.