England will return to a tiered system after 2 December – but measures will be toughened, the Prime Minister has announced.
Speaking to the Commons remotely, as he is currently self-isolating, Mr Johnson confirmed the hospitality industry’s worst fears by revealing that hospitality businesses in areas most affected by coronavirus will not be allowed to reopen for dine-in service.
Unlike previous arrangements, tiers will be a uniform set of rules without any regional negotiations.
In Tier 3, indoor entertainment, hotels and all forms of hospitality will close except for takeaways.
“I am very sorry, obviously, for the unavoidable hardship that this will cause for business owners who have already endured so much disruption this year,” said Mr Johnson.
Pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 areas, meanwhile, will only be able to serve alcohol if it is served with “substantial” meals.
Mr Johnson said: “Without sensible precautions we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge. The incidence of the diseases is, alas, still widespread in many areas, so we are not going to replace national measures with a free for all and a status quo anti-Covid, we are going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach, applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent.”
One piece of good news was that the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars will end. In Tiers 1 and 2, last orders will be at 10pm and places should close at 11pm.
Mr Johnson said the scientific advice was that the tiered system needed to be made tougher as the R number had still not fallen below one.
Non-essential shops, gyms, leisure facilities and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen across England when lockdown ends and weddings will also be allowed.
“I am sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall, at least temporarily, into higher levels than before but by using these tougher tiers, and by using rapid turnaround tests on an ever greater scale, to drive R below one and keep it there, it should be possible for areas to move down the tiering scale to lower levels of restrictions.”