England’s lockdown ends next week – but stricter tiered system will be in place until spring


England’s second national lockdown will be lifted on 2 December when a revised three-tiered system of restrictions will allow shops, gyms and hairdressers to reopen across the country.

The prime minister’s “stay at home” instruction to the country will end a week on Wednesday, following a month of tougher national instructions.

Under his 56-page COVID Winter Plan, which Mr Johnson revealed to the House of Commons on Monday, the national shutdown will be replaced by a new “tougher” version of the tiered system of restrictions that preceded it.

The lifting of the national lockdown from 2 December will see:

  • Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and leisure facilities reopen across the whole of England
  • Collective worship, weddings and all outdoor sports can resume, subject to social distancing, across the whole of England
  • The “rule of six” will return – meaning people will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public – across the whole of England
  • The previous 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants will be extended to 11pm, with last orders at 10pm.

The prime minister warned that the next few weeks will still prove to be a “hard winter” and “Christmas cannot be normal”, but he said the country had “turned a corner and the escape route is in sight”.

In Tier 1 areas, people will be urged to work from home wherever possible.

In Tier 2 areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals along with alcoholic drinks.

In Tier 3 areas all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through. Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.

The prime minister said he expected to be able to announce on Thursday which areas of England will be in which tier – a decision that will be based on local infection rates and pressures on hospitals.

“I’m sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before,” he added.

“But by using these tougher tiers and by using rapid turnaround tests on an ever greater scale to drive R below one and keep it there, it should be possible for areas to move down the tiering scale to lower levels of restrictions.”

Meanwhile, for the first time since the country’s first lockdown in March, fans will be allowed back into sports stadiums in areas with the lowest cases of coronavirus.

In Tier 1, 50% capacity or 4,000 spectators – whichever is lower – will be allowed in outdoor venues, with a maximum 1,000 indoors.

In Tier 2, 50% capacity or 2,000 spectators – whichever is lower, will be allowed in outdoor venues, with a maximum 1,000 indoors.

People in England will also now be able to travel abroad for holidays once again from 2 December, although they will remain subject to quarantine rules.

The prime minister told MPs that his winter plan “is designed to carry us safely to spring”, while he said the “scientific cavalry is in sight” as he praised advances in testing, treatment and vaccines.

“By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we have endured in 2020 and make the whole concept of a Covid lockdown redundant,” Mr Johnson said.

The prime minister is also this week expected to set out how families across the UK might be able to gather at Christmas.

However, he told MPs: ” I can’t say that Christmas will be normal this year, but in a period of adversity, time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.

“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it.

“But what we don’t want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January.”

The prime minister also warned people to “make a careful judgement about the risk of visiting elderly relatives” over the upcoming festive period.

Mr Johnson’s address to MPs was later interrupted by technical problems as his video-link from Downing Street, where he continues to self-isolate, failed.

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