There could be no escape from Tier 2 lockdown restrictions for millions of Brits as England's medical chief warns it will "hold the line" but won't bring down coronavirus cases.

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson today attempted to reassure Brits that their tier was "not your destiny", chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty appeared to contradict him - almost immediately.

Today was the day the whole of the UK discovered which tier of the three-tier system their area will fall into when the national lockdown ends next week, with only the the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly entering tier 1, with the lightest Covid-19 restrictions.

But while folk in those seaside spots may be tempted to jump for joy, Prof Whitty warned that such soft restrictions would likely lead to a surge in Covid cases.

England's tiers from December 2

At the Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Prof Whitty warned: "Tier 1, which is very similar to the previous Tier 1, slowed things down but did not stop the rise anywhere.

"So the reason why Tier 1 at this time of year, with the current measures we currently got before we have any vaccines, is relatively limited, is almost certainly anywhere going into Tier 1 will rise and the only places that are there are places with very low rates at the moment."

He added he would hope that "in some months to come, possibly in some weeks to come, we'll be in a situation where more places could go into Tier 1".

"But we should not do that until we're confident because the experience of Tier 1 previously was, and it hasn't really changed, is that if you're in Tier 1, the rate starts to go up."

Professor Chris Whitty contradicted the PM today

The PM had moments before claimed that areas could well move down the tier system, which kicks in on December 3 and puts 99% of England in the top two brackets.

But Prof Whitty appeared to suggest this was little more than wishful thinking.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, but the majority of people - including London - will be in Tier 2.

Mark Harper, the former Conservative chief whip, expressed scepticism about the Prime Minister's claim that "your tier is not your destiny".

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Mr Harper, whose Forest of Dean constituency is in Tier 2, tweeted: "Unfortunately, just after the PM said this, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said Tier 2 would only hold infections level, and Tier 1 would see them go up.

"That rather suggests if you're in Tier 2, it is your destiny - at least until the spring."

He referred to the comments made by Prof Whitty at the briefing, in which he said: "Tier 2 looks as if it's strong enough to hold the line, so stop things rising, but not reliably to pull things down.

"Tier 3 we think based on previous experiences is strong enough to pull things down from a higher peak."

The Prime Minister said the Government was returning to the tiers approach because it had been shown to have an impact when used last time.

He told the press briefing: "The tiered approach was delivering, it was slowing the virus down and that's why a tiered, reasonable approach is the right way to go now."

However, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the previous tier system did not manage to decrease the infection rate enough.

At the press conference, he said: "The message is that the tiers worked in terms of slowing but didn't work in terms of flattening and reversing it.

"The national lockdown looks as if it has flattened it and is sending it downwards and it is important we do bring it down because numbers remain high."

Sir Patrick said one in 85 people in the country have coronavirus at the moment, numbers which he said were "very high".

Johnson told the press conference that "every area has the means of escape" from the top levels of restrictions.

He said he was "sorry" about about the pain inflicted on businesses and residents when they move into Tier 2 and 3 areas next week.

But the PM added: "If we ease off now, we risk losing control over this virus all over again, casting aside our hard-won gains and forcing us back into a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean."