Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed new measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 during the winter months.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest coronavirus restrictions, the vaccine plans, and whether families can celebrate Christmas together this year:
– When do we get out of the national lockdown?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the national lockdown imposed on Nov. 5 will end on Dec.2.
However, England will then revert to a regional layered system of restrictions – similar to the one introduced earlier this year.
– What is the level system?
There are three different levels of restrictions, which will be imposed at the regional level, depending on the number of coronavirus cases in that area.
Those living under Tier 1 restrictions will have the greatest freedoms, while those in Tier 2 and 3 will face tougher measures.
– How will they decide which level to introduce?
Regions with a high number of cases will face more stringent measures, while regions with fewer cases will have their restrictions relaxed.
To decide which level applies to a specific area, officials will look at coronavirus cases across all age groups, and particularly among those over 60 who are considered to be most at risk.
They will also look at whether the number of infections is increasing or decreasing and the prevalence of the disease per 100,000 of the population.
– When will I find out what level I am in?
An announcement will be made on Thursday.
– What is allowed under each level?
Under Level 1, people can meet up to six friends or family outside or inside.
Pubs and restaurants may reopen, but only with table service and a 11pm closing time.
In level 2, people from two different households cannot mix indoors, and outdoor gatherings are limited to six.
Pubs remain closed unless they operate as a restaurant, and alcohol is only served as part of a “substantial meal”.
Retail and personal care – such as hairdressers and beauty salons – can reopen at all levels, and indoor entertainment venues – such as cinemas, theaters, bowling alleys, and casinos – may remain open in levels 1 and 2, but not in level 3.
In Tier 3 areas, the hospitality industry remains closed, except for takeaways, and groups of six can only meet outside in the public area.
– Can I travel between levels?
People in Tier 3 areas should avoid traveling to other parts of the UK, including overnight stays, unless it is for work, education, healthcare or care.
Likewise, those in the Tier 1 and 2 areas are not allowed to travel to the Tier 3 zones, but may pass as part of a longer journey.
– Do I have to make plans for Christmas?
Not yet. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to confirm details on how people might spend the holiday season on Monday.
However, a plan is being developed with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to reunite families for Christmas.
– Is there a vaccine yet?
Not quite. While vaccine developers have begun to publish the interim results of their trials, they have been positive so far.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca team announced that its vaccine has been shown to be 90% effective.
– When will it be ready?
No one can be sure at this stage, as no vaccine has yet been approved for use.
But the shot is likely to be rolled out in the UK from December, with most of the vaccination coming in the New Year.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that if all goes well in the coming weeks, the vaccination program could potentially be rolled out for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine from next month.
– Do I have to pay for an injection?
No, the vaccine is free with the NHS.
– Is there enough for everyone?
The government said it will have access to more than 350 million doses of vaccine from seven developers between now and the end of 2021, which is enough to potentially vaccinate the entire population.
– Should I get a vaccine?
There are no plans to mandate vaccination, Downing Street said earlier in November.
However, Mr. Hancock has also refused to rule out making it mandatory.
– How long does the immunity last?
The government said in its Covid Winter Plan that the exact strength and duration of immunity afforded by vaccination is not yet known.
Protection through vaccination takes time to build up and requires a full course of treatment, but it is not yet known how well the first vaccines will prevent the virus from passing between humans.
– Can I choose which vaccine to receive?
As things stand, the vaccines will roll out as soon as they become available, depending on which one gets approved first and how quickly companies can make them.
No announcement has been made as to whether one could take precedence over the other if they become widely ready.
People are not expected to be able to choose which injection they want to receive.
– When will life return to normal?
While it is not known exactly how long it may take for the population to be vaccinated, Mr Hancock has said it appears that things will return to normal after Easter.
But until then, and until there is some sort of herd immunity in the population achieved through vaccination, people will have to keep wearing face masks, socially distancing themselves, and washing their hands.