Publishedduration1 hour ago
image copyrightPA Media
image captionPubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops have been closed in England since 5 November, under a second national lockdown
A tougher three-tiered system of local restrictions will come into force in England when the lockdown ends on 2 December, Downing Street has said.
Boris Johnson is expected to set out his plan – including details of how families can see different households at Christmas – to MPs on Monday.
More areas are set to be placed into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control, No 10 said.
And some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard lockdown progress.
It is not yet clear exactly how restrictions could change – but it is understood the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be altered.
Mr Johnson is expected to say that, while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks.
Full details of the so-called “Covid winter plan” are expected on Monday, after cabinet discussions on Sunday.
Some local measures will be the same as those in the previous three tier system, used in England to tackle the spread of coronavirus up until the current lockdown began.
But the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is expected to publish papers on Monday saying that measures in the previous tiers were not strong enough.
The prime minister will acknowledge that the measures are difficult, while making clear they are not to last longer than is absolutely necessary, and that the need to support the economy is being taken into account.
English tier system – at a glance
Pre-lockdown, there were three tiers of restrictions – medium, high, and very high:
- Medium / Tier 1: Rule of six if meeting indoors or outdoors; pubs and restaurants shut at 10pm
- High / Tier 2: No household mixing indoors; rule of six applies outdoors; pubs and restaurants shut at 10pm
- Very high / Tier 3: No household mixing indoors or in some outdoor spaces; pubs and bars not serving meals are closed
It comes after newspaper reports suggested families could be allowed to meet for up to a week over Christmas as part of a UK-wide relaxation of coronavirus rules.
According to the Daily Telegraph, several families could be allowed to join in one “bubble” and mix between 22 and 28 December.
The plan will include guidance on how people will be able to celebrate Christmas, but ministers have made clear the festive season will be different to normal – with some restrictions expected to remain in place.
The government will set out what tier each area will be placed into on Thursday and MPs are expected to be given a vote to approve the new tier system in the days before it comes into force.