All stores in England are expected to reopen after December 2, along with gyms, under new coronavirus rules announced today by Boris Johnson.
England is expected to revert to a three-tiered system of restrictions with tougher restrictions imposed on areas with higher contamination rates.
But under the old tier system, before the lockdown, all shops, hairdressers and gyms in all areas were allowed to be open – regardless of what level they were in.
That is expected to be the same after December 2, reports The mirror.
What will Boris Johnson announce today?
The Prime Minister will announce the rules for Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 in England after December 2 in a ‘Covid Winter Plan’.
These levels will be tougher than the ones we saw in October, after government scientists ruled that the old levels were not enough.
And more areas than before will be in the strictest Tier 3. Scientific data will be published today to substantiate why stronger levels are needed.
It is thought that pubs will face even tougher regulations – including the complete shutdown in Tier 3.
In return, there will be more support for areas moving to Tier 3. They can “quickly test” their entire population to eliminate the virus more quickly.
And Liverpool will try out a system where close contacts no longer need to isolate from Covid-19 cases for 14 days. Instead, they would be quickly tested every day for seven days after exposure and only go into isolation if one of those yields positive responses.
If successful, it will be expanded to the NHS and nursing homes in December, before rolling out to everyone from January.
The Test and Trace budget is being raised to a whopping £ 22 billion to pay for this.
What could happen at Christmas?
The rules for tier lockdown will be relaxed across the UK briefly so that people can see family.
Multiple households – possibly three – could temporarily create a bubble for several days.
It is suggested that this could be five days between December 23 and 27, but that has still not been confirmed.
Restrictions on church services will also be lifted, allowing Christmas services to be held, the Telegraph reported.
What will happen from December 2?
Boris Johnson will state that England’s second national lockdown has been successful enough to end on December 2.
This is partly because of improved statistics and partly because backbench Tory MPs will put the prime minister on their naughty list if he tries to extend the national lockdown further.
The government has stressed that it wants England to come out of the four-week lockdown on December 2.
This is the legal end point, with any extension requiring a vote in Parliament.
How will the three levels look different now?
The “Covid Winter Plan” will place more areas in the higher levels – and make the levels themselves tougher.
In Level 1 10pm curfew is expected to be relaxed, so last orders arrive at 10pm, but people have until 11pm to finish a drink.
But reports suggest that the rules for pubs and restaurants will be tightened.
In Level 2 they can only stay open if they serve substantial meals, the sun said. This is the rule that previously applied to Tier 3.
In Level 3, pubs and restaurants may need to close completely and serve only alcohol or meals as a “click and collect.”
Can shops, gyms and hairdressers remain open?
Yes, it seems.
Non-essential stores, gyms and hairdressers were allowed to remain open on all three levels and that is not expected to change.
We’re less sure about things like nail bars and tanning salons, some of which previously had to close below Tier 3.
Only on Thursday you will find out what level you are in England.
You should not assume that you are now in level 2 just because you were in it before. The ministers will look at virus figures, hospital admissions, the rate of growth or shrinkage and any local factors.
MPs are expected to vote in the days before it takes effect to approve the new system.
How long will the new system last
The government is optimistic that restrictions can be gradually reduced in the run-up to spring, provided vaccines are approved by regulatory agencies, allowing a rollout plan to begin next month, before a broader program can begin in the new year.
But because no vaccines have been approved, it’s still not clear exactly when the rollout can begin.
So we probably won’t get a clear answer on exactly how long these restrictions will last.
And they will definitely be back after Christmas and through the beginning of 2021.
Matt Hancock warned today that the restrictions should continue until “most” of the population has been vaccinated.
He told BBC Breakfast that if a vaccine is approved by the MHRA: “We hope to be able to start vaccinating next month.
“Most of the vaccine rollout will take place in January, February, March.
“We hope things can return to normal sometime after Easter.”
There may be so-called ‘Freedom Passes’
Britons who undergo two negative coronavirus tests per week could be issued a ‘freedom pass’ that allows them to live as normal a life as possible, according to reports.
Whitehall officials would develop the plan to try to bring the country back to normal next year.
People who turn out to be Covid-free will be given a document accessible on their phone that will allow them to move around freely, according to the proposed plan that has not yet received the green light.
Regular tests would be necessary to qualify for the ‘certificates’ that could see those with liberty badges no longer required to wear face covers in public areas.
But for the scheme to work, the government would need to be able to run millions of tests per day.
And a nursing home will be tested
As part of the large community testing program, each nursing home resident can receive up to two visitors who can be tested for the virus twice a week.
As long as they keep testing negative, they can hug their loved ones and hold hands.
Food factory workers, prison staff, and staff who deliver and administer Covid-19 vaccines will also be tested weekly starting next month.
Repeat testing will be expanded so that close contacts of people who test positive do not have to isolate.
They are offered daily tests for a week and only have to go into quarantine if they are diagnosed with coronavirus.
A trial in Liverpool begins within a day.
If the pilot works, it will be expanded to NHS and care homes next month (DEC) and rolled out to everyone from January.