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Boris Johnson has set out a three-tier system of Covid restrictions to run to the spring, including an easing in some areas, such as reopening shops and gyms and letting crowds return to sporting events, but toughening earlier rules on pubs and restaurants.
The so-called Covid Winter Plan, 56 pages of which were being published as Johnson set out the scheme to MPs on Monday, expires at the end of March and puts areas in England into one of three tiers.
When the four-week national lockdown across England ends on 2 December, non-essential shops in all areas can reopen, as can gyms, hairdressers and other personal care businesses, with the formal instruction to stay at home coming to an end. The “rule of six” will again apply for outdoor gatherings.
In tier 1, the rule of six will be the same both indoors and outdoors, allowing people from across households to see each other indoors. In tiers 2 and 3, such meetings will only be allowed outdoors, with no household mixing inside, beyond the expected relaxation of rules over Christmas.
Places of worship will also open and weddings will be allowed within local restrictions. Limited and socially distanced numbers of spectators will also be allowed at both indoor and outdoor sports events, although not in the more stringent tier.
For hospitality businesses in tier 2, alcohol can only be served with a “substantial meal”, while in tier 3 all pubs, restaurants and cafes must close apart from for delivery or takeaway.
Downing Street has also confirmed the change to the previous 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants. Instead, they must stop serving at 10pm, but people can stay until up to 11pm, to stagger departures times and avoid overcrowding.
For sports events outdoors, in tier 1 up to 4,000 people or 50% of the usual capacity can gather, whichever is smaller, while in tier 2 the number is 2,000 people, or 50% of usual capacity. With indoor events, the ceiling is 1,000 people.
On Christmas, while Downing Street has confirmed the basic plan to allow some households to mix over a few days, details about this are not due until later this week. MPs are expected to vote on the overall plans early next week.
The allocation of regions to tiers will not be announced until Thursday after more local data on coronavirus is assessed. Conditions will be the same for all areas in the same tier, with no local negotiations, in an attempt to prevent the wrangling that featured strongly under the previous tiered system.
The one area in which local authorities will get a say is whether to take part in expanded trials of mass and rapid testing for Covid, as is currently being tried out in Liverpool.
Tier positions will be reviewed every 14 days, and will be based on five criteria: case numbers across all age groups; cases in those aged over 60; the rate of rise or fall in infections; the percentage of those tested who have the virus; and current and projected pressures on the NHS locally.
However, the overall system is designed to take England to the spring – by which time it is hoped vaccines will have been rolled out quite widely – and is not expected to be reviewed before then.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Boris Johnson sets out new three-tier system of Covid restrictions for England | World news