England will face tiered coronavirus restrictions until the end of March, despite the latest successful vaccine trials and rapid tests presenting a “route out of the pandemic”.
As the country's current lockdown ends on December 2nd, more parts of England are expected to be placed into higher tiers than they were before the national restrictions were imposed.
British prime minister Boris Johnson also said the new tiers would be tougher than their predecessors, after UK government scientific advisers said the previous regime did not do enough to tackle the virus.
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Appearing via video link from coronavirus self-isolation in Downing Street, Mr Johnson told MPs the three-tiered approach had been beefed up.
Under the new system:
- In Tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.
- In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.
A 10pm curfew in pubs will be relaxed, with last orders now closed at that time and premises ordered to shut at 11pm.
Setting out other measures that will be eased as the lockdown lifts, Mr Johnson said: “From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.
“But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge.”
Details of which areas will be in which tiers will be set out on Thursday, Mr Johnson said.
“I’m sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before,” he warned.