Gyms and all non-essential shops across England are expected to be allowed to reopen once lockdown ends in the lead-up to Christmas.
It is part of the UK government’s COVID Winter Plan – a new blueprint to fight the pandemic which looks to not only save lives during the winter, but also prevent a Commons revolt by rebel Tory MPs – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Mr Johnson will explain the detail of England’s return to the “three tier system” when lockdown ends on 2nd December.
As announced over the weekend, a break for Christmas is to be allowed, but Mr Johnson is not expected to confirm how many households will be able to bubble together at Christmas, or how long the break in restrictions will last.
That announcement is currently planned for tomorrow.
Government ministers are however reportedly believed to be working on plans for three households and a five-day break – from Christmas Eve to 28th December – subject to agreement from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News this morning that a final decision “hasn’t been made”.
He said the government will “confirm it when we have that agreement across the four nations”, and added: “We’ve agreed in principle that there should be a set of rules that applies across the board that is balanced, that allows a little bit more freedom, but is still safe.”
But despite the differences in the new three tier restrictions due replace England’s national lockdown, the Prime Minister is today expected to announce:
- Non-essential retail will be allowed to open, in a boost for Christmas shoppers – and the high street.
- Gyms will be allowed to open too in the run-up to Christmas.
- The 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants – which critics claim did more harm than good – is to be altered.
- And a mass testing programme is to be launched in Tier 3 areas, using the Army, like the recent pilot programme in Liverpool.
A scrapping of the self-isolation period for COVID contacts is also expected.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is today expected to say: “The selflessness of people in following the rules is making a difference [and] the virus is not spreading nearly as quickly as it would if we were not washing our hands, maintaining social distance, wearing masks and so on, and in England, where nationwide measures came into effect at the start of this month, the increase in new cases is flattening off,
“But we are not out of the woods yet.
“The virus is still present in communities across the country, and remains both far more infectious and far more deadly than seasonal flu, but with expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.