Prime Minister Mr Johnson is set to lay out his much-anticipated plans, including a strengthened three-tier system of local restrictions for England, for when the national lockdown ends on December 2. More areas are facing severe constraints to prevent the coronavirus from reigniting after England entered a month-long lockdown in early November after COVID-19 infection cases and deaths started to rise again.
Mr Johnson’s plans will also include details on how families can see their loved ones at Christmas.
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Mr Johnson will detail his “COVID winter plan” to MPs on Monday.
Number 10 said it is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control to ensure further restrictions are not needed.
And while some local measures will be the same as those in the previous system, some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown.
The Cabinet is expected to discuss and sign off the plan today before Mr Johnson announces it to Parliament the following day.
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The plan will set out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, but ministers have made clear that the festive season will be different to normal, with some restrictions expected to remain in place.
Ministers will set out what tier each area will be placed into on Thursday and MPs are expected to be given the vote to approve the new tiering system, as promised by Mr Johnson, in the days before it comes into force on December 3.
They are optimistic that restrictions can be gradually reduced in the run-up to spring, providing vaccines are approved by regulators, allowing a plan for the rollout to begin next month before a wider programme in the new year.
Downing Street will hope an easing at Christmas, potential vaccines on the horizon and new scientific evidence will lessen the scale of a rebellion, with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) expected to publish papers on Monday stating that the previous tiers were not strong enough.
The plans emerged as the Government announced a further 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Everyone’s efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressures on the NHS.
“But the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present – and without regional restrictions, it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.
“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made, and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS.”