Pub drinks and Christmas shopping back on the cards as Boris Johnson set to unveil new tier system


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oris Johnson will today reveal plans of a tougher three-tier system that will allow gyms and cinemas to re-open and Britons to enjoy Christmas shopping once England’s national lockdown ends.

The Prime Minister is expected to say that non-essential retail will be able reopen in all three tiers when restrictions end on December 2, while grassroots sport can also resume. 

He is also understood to be planning an easing  of the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, with an extra hour’s drinking up time.

However, under the new revamped tier system, pubs and restaurants could face stricter measures. Although those in England are likely to allowed once again to have drinks with others, hospitality venues under the toughest Tier 3 curbs are expected only to be allowed to offer takeaways. Those in Tier 2 will only be able to serve alcohol with “substantial meals”. 

Mr Johnson will also unveil a proposal to deploy a major testing scheme piloted in Liverpool in an attempt to win over rebels on the Conservative backbenches and announce major rapid testing programmes for all areas forced into the highest tier of restrictions.

He will also set out plans for a trial of the repeat testing of close contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid-19 to prevent them from having to isolate, after the proposals were signed off by the Cabinet on Sunday.

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Non-essential shops are expected to reopen in time for the Christmas rush

/ AFP via Getty Images )

As part of the proposal, cinemas will be allowed to reopen in England for places in Tier 1 and 2, and midnight mass and Christingle services will be permitted in all three tiers. All shops will be allowed to open in all tiers, together with gyms and places of worship.

It is expected that outdoor grassroots sport will be allowed across all tiers.

Elite sports continued behind closed doors during England’s four-week lockdown, but grassroots and amateur sport have been halted since November 5.

The move saw leisure centres and gyms close, as well as other indoor and outdoor leisure facilities including golf courses, while all adult and children’s grassroots football was suspended despite protests.

Elsewhere, a pilot scheme, in which residents of care homes can have up to two visitors tested twice a week, will also be extended, the Guardian reported.

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Andreas Michli at his Zone Gym in Wood Green is facing a £67,000 fine from Haringey Council after refusing to close during the second national lockdown. 

/ PA )

An announcement will also be made on social mixing, with the “rule of six” expected to return in lower tiers and a ban on household mixing likely to be brought back in Tier 3.

The advice to “work from home if you can” will remain across the country.

Sources told MailOnline that most of the country will be placed in the top two tiers. Details of which tier every region of England will be put into are expected on Thursday.

On Christmas, Mr Johnson is not expected to be in a position to give the specifics.

In a letter to the prime minister, 70 Tory MPs from the newly formed CRG,  led by former Brexit minister Steve Baker and ex-chief whip Mark Harper, said the government must prove the new restrictions “will save more lives than they cost”.

The letter, also signed by 14 Conservative peers, told Johnson: “We cannot support this approach further unless the government demonstrates the restrictions proposed for after 2 December will have an impact on slowing the transmission of Covid, and will save more lives than they cost.

“To this end, [the] government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so that MPs can assess responsibly the non-Covid health impact of restrictions, as well as the undoubted impact on livelihoods.”

Over the weekend, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove met with leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to endorse “a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days”.

But the public will be “advised to remain cautious” and told that “wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact”, a statement from his department said.

Downing Street will hope an easing at Christmas, potential vaccines on the horizon and new scientific evidence will lessen the scale of a rebellion, with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) expected to publish papers on Monday saying the previous tiers were not strong enough.

When the Commons voted on the current lockdown earlier this month, 32 Conservatives rebelled to oppose the measures and 17 more, including former prime minister Theresa May, abstained.

But Labour has so far been supportive of the need for restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 and a full-scale Commons defeat on the plan is unlikely.



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