Covid-19: England to enter ‘tougher’ lockdown regime after current measures end

‘Covid winter plan’ is expected to place more areas in the higher tiers of restrictions

British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to detail his Covid plan for winter to MPs on Monday. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire

British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to detail his Covid plan for winter to MPs on Monday. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire

 

England will enter a tougher three-tiered system of local coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends on December 2nd, Downing Street has said.

Boris Johnson is expected to detail his plan for winter to MPs on Monday as he sets out how people can see their loved ones at Christmas.

The “Covid winter plan” is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control to ensure further restrictions are not needed, No 10 said.

The tiers are expected to be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown, but it is understood that the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be altered under the new system.

The prime minister 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 with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.

The Cabinet is expected to discuss and sign off the plan on Sunday before Mr Johnson announces it to Parliament the following day.

Although he will set out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, ministers have made clear that the festive season will be different to normal, with some restrictions expected to remain in place.

Ministers will detail what tier each area will be placed into on Thursday and MPs are expected to be given the vote to approve the new system, as promised by Mr Johnson, in the days before it comes into force on December 2nd.

They are optimistic that restrictions can be gradually reduced in the run-up to spring. Providing vaccines are approved by regulators, the plan is for the rollout to begin next month before a wider programme in the new year.

But the Prime Minister will be wary of a rebellion from backbench Tory MPs who are opposed to new restrictions.

During a vote on the current four-week system earlier this month, 32 Conservatives rebelled to oppose the measures and 17 more, including former prime minister Theresa May, abstained.

The British government announced a further 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626.

Labour has so far been supportive of the need for restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19, and a full-scale Commons defeat on the plan is unlikely.

But shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, in a speech ahead of the Downing Street announcement, said the nation could not be allowed to return “to the shambles we had before this lockdown” in calling for “clarity” on economic support. – PA