Prime minister to unveil new post-lockdown coronavirus restrictions

Boris Johnson will unveil new coronavirus rules today, Monday, November 23. Picture: PA Images

Boris Johnson will unveil new coronavirus rules today, Monday, November 23. Picture: PA Images - Credit: PA Images

Families will today be hoping prime minister Boris Johnson will give them more clarity over Christmas when he unveils new post-lockdown rules.

Mr Johnson is to detail his winter strategy on Monday afternoon, with a proposal to deploy a major testing scheme in an attempt to win over rebels on the Conservative backbenches.

It is understood that he will tell MPs that non-essential shops can open in all three tiers after the current restrictions expire on December 2, in a boost for retailers during the festive period.

However, pubs and restaurants will face the harshest of the new measures with businesses in the new Tier 3 only allowed to offer takeaways, while those in Tier 2 must serve food with any drinks, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The paper added 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.

Mr Johnson will set out the basis of plans to allow a small number of households across the UK to mix over a limited number of days around Christmas, but is not expected to be in a position to give the specifics.

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Appearing virtually in the Commons from his test and trace-ordered quarantine, Mr Johnson is to announce major rapid testing programmes for all areas forced into the highest tier of restrictions.

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

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Mr Johnson is expected to tell MPs that “we are not out of the woods yet” but that “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”.

More areas are expected to enter the higher end of the tiered-system next month, which will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the four-week lockdown.

Ministers will on Thursday set out what tier each area will enter, while one easing expected is to the 10pm curfew rule for pubs and restaurants.

Mr Johnson is understood to be preparing to unveil a plan so that while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks, with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.

In Norfolk, which has previously remained in tier one, there are calls for it to enter the lowest level of restriction.

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, has said: “My view is that I am glad we are coming out of a lockdown and going back into localised tiers again. It was always a difficult pill to swallow to enter a national restriction in my constituency but this was predicated on protecting our local hospitals.

“Norfolk remains substantially below the national average of infections and North Norfolk remains with some of the lowest infections in the country. Although we must be mindful of some increases in Norfolk, we must keep following the guidance and in my view it is only sensible that we come out into the lowest tier.”

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