PM sets out ‘tougher’ post-lockdown tiers for England
Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen when lockdown ends next month, the prime minister has announced.
Boris Johnson told the Commons that the three-tiered regional measures will return from 2 December, but he added that each tier will be toughened.
Spectators will be allowed to return to some sporting events, and weddings and collective worship will resume.
Regions will not find out which tier they are in until Thursday.
The allocation of tiers will be dependent on a number of factors, including each area’s case numbers, the reproduction rate – or R number – and the current and projected pressure on the NHS locally.
Tier allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, and the regional approach will last until March.
The PM, who is self-isolating after meeting an MP who later tested positive for coronavirus, told MPs via video link he expected “more regions will fall – at least temporarily – into higher levels than before”.
He said he was “very sorry” for the “hardship” that such restrictions would cause business owners.
Speaking later at a Downing Street briefing, Mr Johnson added that “things will look and feel very different” after Easter, with a vaccine and mass testing.
He warned the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold” – but added that with a “favourable wind” the majority of people most in need of a vaccination might be able to get one by Easter.
Until then, the PM said, there would be a three-pronged approach of “tough tiering, mass community testing, and [the] roll-out of vaccines”.
No ‘Christmas truce’
Mr Johnson said the tiers would now be a uniform set of rules, with no negotiations on additional measures for any particular region.
Measures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to be decided by the devolved administrations, but a joint approach to Christmas, involving all four nations, will be set out later in the week.
The prime minister said: “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 this virus obviously is not going to grant a Christmas truce… and families will need to make a careful judgement about the risks of visiting elderly relatives.”