Boris Johnson has revealed his Covid winter plan, including a strengthened three-tier system of local restrictions for England that comes into force on December 3.
The plans mean there will be a “uniform set of measures” applicable in any tier across the country, rather than negotiations with each local authority.
Mr Johnson said the new restrictions will begin when the national lockdown ends on December 2 and be in place until the Spring. But the PM won’t make public which areas will fall under which tiers until Thursday, Nov 26.
In Tier 1, there will be a slight relaxation of the 10 pm curfew in pubs and restaurants, but many aspects of the tier system will remain the same.
Here’s what the new restrictions mean for you.
Read more: How each lockdown tier will change under revamped Covid restrictions
What are medium level/Tier 1 lockdown rules?
In Tier 1 areas, people must abide by the “Rule of Six” when meeting other households both indoors and outdoors.
People are still advised to continue to work from home where possible.
There will be a slight relaxation of the curfew system for hospitality venues serving food and drink, such as pubs, bars and restaurants. Under the new rules, last orders will be called at 10pm, with people allowed to finish their food and drinks by 11pm.
Additionally, spectator sports will be allowed to resume both indoors and outdoors in Tier 1, with covid-safe measures and social distancing in place.
The public will also be allowed to attend performances and shows in theatres and other entertainment venues, both indoors and outdoors, at a limited capacity.
The limits for sports and events will be 4,000 people or 50 per cent of the usual capacity outdoors. Indoors, the limit will be 1,000 people.
The other rules are:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
- Hospitality businesses serving food and drink should close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas are exempt)
- The 11pm closure also applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls
- Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open (For the latter, groups attending religious services are expected to follow the rule of six – with larger families exempt)
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees (15 and 30 respectively)
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the “Rule of Six” is followed (There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing)
International travel will now be allowed across all tiers, but the advice is still not to travel unless necessary, and to check FCO restrictions for your destination.
The Government is expected to announce next week that current travel quarantine rules will end in mid December, and will be replaced by a five-day testing plan.
What will this mean for Christmas?
Ministers have agreed a UK-wide plan to allow up to four households to mix for five days over Christmas between December 24 and 28, subject to a vote in parliament and each of the devolved administrations.
Northern Ireland is discussing a cross-border agreement with Ireland, which means the same rules are likely to apply in every part of the British Isles.
Families must decide on their extended bubbles in advance and will not be able to mix with anyone from outside that bubble during the festive break.
Other restrictions, including pub closures, are expected to be relaxed over the festive period.
The severity of the restrictions in the run-up to December 24 will depend on how successful the current lockdown proves to be when it ends on December 2.
Boris Johnson said: “Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together.”
Final details of the arrangements for Christmas are expected to be announced next week.
Tier 2 lockdown rules: what you can and can’t do in ‘high’ alert areas
Tier 3 lockdown rules explained: what you can and can’t do in ‘very high’ risk alert areas
Tier 4 lockdown rules: what are the restrictions?
When will the tier restrictions end?
The restrictions will expire at the end of March, with Mr Johnson saying he believed the vaccine would make Covid lockdowns “redundant” in the new year.
On November 20, ministers claimed that the recent vaccine news was “a ray of light” which may bring an end to the tiered lockdowns and reintroduce normality.
The Government’s plans to vaccinate 44 million adults before April 2021 was praised by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who shared he was “more and more confident” that life will be closer to normality in the spring.
Use our interactive tool to see which tier your area falls under in England’s new system for local lockdowns