Boris Johnson warned more areas of the country will go into tougher levels of local lockdowns once the month-long national circuit breaker comes to an end.
The Prime Minister outlined a more robust three-tier system that will come into place after 2 December, and said the UK can’t “let the virus rip” for the sake of Christmas.
He said: “We will continue to bear down hard on this virus. We will use tough tiering – in some ways tougher than the pre-lockdown measures – and details of those tiers are on the gov.uk website later this week when we have the most up to data and we will be sharing details of which tier your area is going to be in.
“I should warn you now that many more places will be in higher tiers than alas was previously the case.”
Government’s Covid Winter Plan would mean people living in tier 3 areas – under the highest level of restrictions – would not be able to mix inside or outside with other households, or at hospitality locales.
A maximum of six people would be allowed to meet outdoors, while all indoor entertainment businesses and hospitality companies – unless providing take-away services – will be forced to shut.
With reported breakthroughs in the search for a vaccine, the Covid Winter Plan identified the Easter period as a time when the pandemic will have a “different” look and feel.
Mr Johnson added: “Christmas this year will be different and we want to remain prudent through Christmas and beyond into the new year but we will use three tools that I have described to squeeze the virus in the weeks and months ahead – tiering, testing and the roll-out of vaccines.
“Employing all three techniques together so as to drive down R and drive down the infection rate and I really am now assured things really will look and feel very different indeed after Easter.”
City of London Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness said the announcement of a Covid-19 Winter Plan is welcome, citing that it is “good to have clarity” on the arrangements for the festive period and into the New Year.
However, she added: “What we also urgently need from the Government is a clear plan to allow office workers to return to Covid-secure workplaces in order to get as much of the economy operating as possible. This is vital to protect livelihoods. We also need a thriving economy to help pay for the vast amount of support being provided at this time.
“With reports of a coming vaccine it seems there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, but in the meantime Londoners should continue to act responsibly by complying with the new rules in order to reduce transmission, save lives and protect the NHS.”