Watch: Boris Johnson announces return to three-tier COVID restrictions
Boris Johnson reveals details of ‘tougher’ three-tier system of local restrictions
PM warns more areas will be put into stricter Tier 3 and Tier 2 than before
As national lockdown ends, Johnson says revised three-tier system will last until spring
‘We’re not going to replace national measures with a free-for-all’
Boris Johnson has warned that more areas of England will be placed under tough local restrictions when the national lockdown ends.
Confirming the return to a “tougher” three-tier localised system after the lockdown ends on 2 December, Johnson said: “I’m sorry to say, we expect more regions will fall – at least temporarily – into higher levels than before.”
It raises the prospect of a majority of areas being under tougher Tier 3 and Tier 2 restrictions. A list of areas is set to be published on Thursday.
He said the tougher restrictions and rapid turnaround tests should make it “possible for areas to move down the tiering scale to lower levels of restrictions”.
Johnson – who appeared in the House of Commons via video-link on Monday due to his self-isolation after coming into contact with a COVID-positive MP – suggested the revised tier system will last until March, saying: “Our winter plan is designed to carry us safely to spring.”
He added: “We’re not going to replace national measures with a free-for-all.”
Under the revised measures:
Pubs and restaurants face the harshest measures. In a change from Johnson’s previous tier system, those in the strictest Tier 3 will only be allowed to offer takeaways, while pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 will only be able to sell alcohol with a substantial meal
Indoor entertainment venues and hotels will have to close in Tier 3 areas
Non-essential shops and gyms will be allowed to reopen across all three tiers, while the bans on outdoor grassroots sport and collective worship have also been lifted
The “rule of six” – allowing social gatherings of up to six people – will apply outdoors across all tiers
People in Tier 1 should work from home “wherever possible”
The 10pm curfew has been changed to 11pm, with last orders now at 10pm and closing at 11pm
In Tiers 1 and 2, spectator sports will be allowed to resume “with capacity limits” – though Johnson didn’t say what these would be
Johnson introduced his first three-tier system on 14 October but was forced to impose a national lockdown on 5 November as COVID infections continued to surge.
He admitted: “While the previous local tiers did cut the ‘R’ [reproduction] number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below 1.
“So the scientific advice, I’m afraid, is that as we come out, our tiers need to be made tougher.”
Responding to the announcement, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government’s return to the three-tier system is “risky”.
Starmer said: “The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel – the question today is, how do we get there and protect lives and livelihoods along the way?
“The prime minister proposes a return to the three-tier system. That’s risky, because the previous three-tier system didn’t work.
“Tier 1 areas drifted to Tier 2, almost all Tier 2 areas ended up in Tier 3 and those in Tier 3 couldn’t see a way out and we ended up in national lockdown.
“That was the sad reality of the tiered system before, and nobody wants a repeat of that.”
The PM responded: “It’s not quite clear whether he’s supporting them or not. I think they’re the right thing for the country, the right way of getting the virus down.”
Meanwhile, an announcement on the easing of household mixing rules in the UK during the Christmas period is expected on Tuesday.
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