Most of England banned from mixing indoors with family and friends until EASTER under tougher tier lockdown

MOST of England will be banned from mixing with family and friends indoors until EASTER under tough new lockdown tiers. 

Boris Johnson today unveiled his winter Covid recovery plan to curb the spread of the virus. 

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The PM confirmed to the Commons that the three-tier system will be reintroduced once England's lockdown is lifted on December 2.

But he said that the system would be strengthened, to prevent the virus "getting out of control".

As part of the new rules, Brits will be able to meet others outdoors in all Tiers subject to the rule of six.

And areas with the worst infection rates won't be forced into a draconian Tier 4 – like in Scotland – which pushed areas into measures close to a full lockdown.

But the PM admitted that "more regions will fall into higher tiers than before" – meaning that the majority of Brits are expected to be banned from socialising indoors until the Spring.

He told the Commons: “We expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher regions than before. 

“By using these tougher tiers and rapid turnaround tests, it should be possible for areas to move down the tiering scale.”

The new rules, which will come in next week include:

  • Households will be only able to meet up in Tier 3 in outdoor spaces like parks
  • Pubs and restaurants in the top Tier will have to stay shut – but drive-throughs and deliveries can continue
  • Tier 2 pub rules will be toughened, with only places serving food with drinks allowed even outside
  • Pubs, restaurants, casinos, bowling alleys, soft play areas, museums, galleries and cinemas in Tier 3 will have to stay shut
  • Gyms and beauty salons can open across the nation – and all shops will open their doors again
  • Brits will be able to go to see football matches in the lower tiers from December 2 onwards
  • Elderly Brits will be able to come out of care homes to spend Christmas with the family if everyone tests negative
  • New parents with a kid under one will be allowed to form support bubbles
  • The Rule of Six will return across all Tiers but the 10pm curfew will be moved to 11pm
  • Weddings will be allowed to take place with 15 guests and collective worship can continue – but receptions are banned in Tier 3

Areas living under Tier 2 will have to follow rules that were previously in place in the highest Covid level – meaning pubs will only be able to serve booze alongside a “substantial meal”.

And punters will only be able to dine indoors with people they live with.

Mass testing will also be rolled out in the top Covid alert levels in a bid to try and get the cases down again.

Beauty salons, gyms and hairdressers will also all be able to reopen for a "morale boost".

But once the Christmas relief is over, families face months without being able to see each other.

This is so the UK can return to "normal life" by Easter.

It is hoped by then vaccines will be available to everyone – and Boris Johnson confirmed that the "scientific cavalry is on the way".

The hated 10pm curfew will finally be ditched by ministers and replaced with demands to take last orders – and a final closing time of 11pm, giving Brits a chance to finish their drinks before being forced onto the street.

And a huge boost for retailers, all shops will be allowed to open in the crucial run-up to Christmas — regardless of their local lockdown measures.

Scientists last week warned up to five days of tough lockdown could be needed to compensate for each day with fewer restrictions – meaning there could be up to 25 days of tighter rules.

 

But Boris and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have emphasised the need to return to a "functioning economy".

This means the public can expect more areas to be thrown into higher tiers in a bid to prevent any further national lockdown measures.

Some will see tiers enhanced, which officials believe will safeguard the progress made since the national effort was brought in on November 5.

No 10 is adamant recent positive news on vaccines and mass testing could mean restrictions are gradually wound down towards spring 2021.

Brits could also be given special 'freedom passes' to allow them to live a relatively normal life – if they have two negative Covid tests a week.

But people face a nervous wait until Thursday when they will be told which areas will be placed into the various tiers.

But pubs that do not serve food will remain closed in places with the highest infection rates.

The 10pm curfew was slammed after it was introduced in September after crowds gathered outside to drink and the Tube was compared to rush hour.

One insider told the Mail on Sunday: "10pm last orders and being allowed to stay longer sounds eminently sensible."

And in a boost for the struggling high street, all shops will remain open when lockdown ends – even if they're in the strictest tiers.

'TORY REBELLION'

But the PM, who is still self-isolating in Downing Street, faces a major rebellion from his own side when the new tier system — which he will keep under ongoing review — goes to a vote in the Commons.

The Covid Recovery Group, led by former chief whip Mark Harper and ex-Brexit Minister Steve Baker, is set to fight the new measures.

A letter seen by The Sun on Sunday has been signed by 70 Tory MPs along with 14 peers, declaring their outrage at the approach.

It states: “Government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so MPs can assess responsibly the non-Covid health impact of restrictions, as well as the undoubted impact on livelihoods.

“Today, the lockdown cure prescribed runs the very real risk of being worse than the disease.”

It adds: “We cannot live under such a series of damaging lockdowns and apparently arbitrary restrictions, and expect our constituents to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season, only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihoods.

“Our country instead needs a different and enduring strategy for living with the virus that can last beyond Christmas.

"Restrictions should be removed immediately if it cannot be shown that they are saving more lives than they cost.”

CALLS FOR 'CLARITY'

While Shadow business minister Lucy Powell has called for clarity to allow the UK to plan through to 2021.

She told Sky News' Sophy Ridge: "I think what we now need for the first time really in this pandemic is we need a lot more clarity, we need a blueprint, a route map to take us through from now through to next year.

"So that families know what they're supposed to be doing when, just as importantly so that businesses can plan whether they are reopening and, if they are, under what terms and how they can continue over the coming weeks.

"We need this now to be a route map through to next year when hopefully the vaccine and mass testing will come on stream and make things easier for all of us."

A No 10 spokesman said on Saturday night: “Everyone’s efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased NHS pressures.

“But the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present and without regional restrictions it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.

“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made.”

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