England to move into tougher tier system after second lockdown

Boris Johnson expected to announce on Monday that three-tier system will return

Shoppers queue to enter an Apple store after new nationwide restrictions were announced during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Powered by automated translation

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm that the second lockdown restrictions he introduced across England are to end on December 2, his office said on Saturday.

The lockdown will be followed by a return to a three-tier set of regional restrictions as part of the government's "Covid Winter Plan", it said.

The official announcement is expected to be made on Monday. Before the second lockdown began, the UK's three-tier system looked like this:

England's lockdown rules. 
England's lockdown rules. 

The said current England-wide restrictions have "helped bring the virus back under control" and "eased pressures" on the National Health Service.

But the government also cautioned that without regional restrictions, the virus would wreak havoc before plans for vaccine distribution and mass testing have had time to take effect.

"That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS," Downing Street said.

The government said on Sunday it was working with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ease Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas and allow families to get together.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove discussed the issue with the first ministers of the devolved administrations on Saturday, the government said.

They agreed it was important for families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising it would not be a normal festive period.

“As such, ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact," the government said.

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier on Sunday that Britons would not be able to enjoy a normal Christmas this year, but the government was looking at ways to enable families to get together.

“Frustrating as it is for all of us, Christmas is not going to be normal this year,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“But that said, the prime minister is, for example, looking at ways to see how families can spend time with each other.”

A four-week national shutdown was imposed in England this month, in theory forcing people to stay home and businesses to close because of a second wave of Covid-19.

But the edict to stay at home has largely fallen on deaf ears.

This article explores why England has not been staying locked down while the footage below shows the mass disobedience.

The lockdown was originally scheduled to run until December 2.

More regions are then expected to face higher levels of restrictions than they did before the lockdown, the government said.

Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the virus, with more than 55,000 deaths from 1.5 million cases.

Lockdown 2 gallery