Most of England is expected to be placed in the two toughest COVID-19 tiers as a national lockdown comes to an end on December 2.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out the plans in the House of Commons later, as the government tries to slow down the rate of infection across the country, with another 696 COVID deaths recorded on Wednesday, the highest U.K. daily total since May 5.
There are a total of three tiers that will be coming into force. In Tier 1, pubs, bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate table service only and must stop taking orders at 10pm, although pubs will be able to stay open until 11pm, Boris Johnson has told MPs. Indoor venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys are also allowed to stay open. The rule of six will be applicable both indoors and outdoors, allowing people from different households to see each other indoors.
In Tier 2, indoor venues can open with and social distancing and limits of 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people. Mixing with people indoors from other households is not allowed, although a maximum of six people will be allowed to meet outdoors. Pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants.
In Tier 3, the toughest tier, hospitality venues must close, with only delivery and takeaway allowed and there can be no mixing of households, indoors or outdoors. Only a handful of areas are expected to be in Tier 1. Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Sky News that people would see a tangible difference as the national lockdown ends on December 2.
A three-tier system will come into force when lockdown ends Getty
He said: “Whichever tier you’re in I think people will see a tangible change. That said, things are obviously not normal and I can’t pretend that next week things are going to feel like they were before the spring.”
According to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the city is headed for tier 2 when the lockdown ends.
“At the moment it looks likely we will be in tier 2 after lockdown is lifted but we’ll have to wait and see what the numbers are this Thursday when the decision is taken,” Mr. Khan told ITV News London.
The three-tier system will be subjected to regular reviews and an area’s tier level could change before Christmas, depending on factors such as the case detention rate, how quickly rates are rising or falling and the pressure on NHS services within the local area. The U.K. also faces a difficult economic climate, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak warning yesterday that unemployment could reach 7.5 percent by next spring, meaning 2.6 million people could be out of work.
Some sectors of the economy have urged the chancellor to provide further support, in light of the tiers that will come into force. The British Beer and Pub Association said that the lack of action to save pubs and jobs was staggering.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It seems pubs have now been cast adrift by the Government. To save businesses and jobs the Chancellor needs to come back to the House this week and set out an enhanced package of support ahead of the new tier system coming into effect.
“Not only is the Government unfairly rendering pubs unviable or forcing many of them to stay closed this Christmas, it isn’t even giving them the full financial support they need to survive. Whilst the news of a review of business rates reliefs in the New Year is a glimmer of positive news, it is not nearly enough.”