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UK PM unveils 'tougher' tiered system of COVID restrictions to replace lockdown

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-11-24 09:15
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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street, London, Britain Nov 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday a "tougher" tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England's current lockdown when it ends on Dec 2.

Under the "COVID Winter Plan" which Johnson revealed to the House of Commons (lower house of parliament), the revised three-tiered system "is designed to carry us safely to spring".

According to the prime minister, under Tier One, the lowest of the new three-tier system, people in the areas will be urged to work from home wherever possible.

In Tier Two areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals along with alcoholic drinks.

In Tier Three areas all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through. Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.

Johnson said he will announce which areas will fall into which tier later this week, probably on Thursday.

The prime minister said he was "very sorry for the unavoidable hardship to business owners who have already endured so much destruction this year".

Meanwhile, shops, gyms and salons are allowed to reopen across the country after Dec 2. The "rule of six" will return, which means people will again be able to meet up to six people from different households outdoors across England.

According to the plan, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume across England as long as social distancing is maintained.

For the first time since the country's first lockdown in March, fans will be allowed back into outdoor sports stadiums in areas with the lowest coronavirus infection rates.

Britons will also be allowed to travel abroad for holidays once again from Dec 2, although they will remain subject to quarantine rules when they return.

Johnson is expected to announce later this week how families across Britain might be able to gather during the upcoming Christmas season.

"Christmas cannot be normal and there's a long road to spring," he said.

The prime minister noted that "scientific cavalry is in sight", referring to the advances in testing, treatment and vaccines.

"By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we have endured in 2020 and make the whole concept of a COVID lockdown redundant," Johnson told MPs.

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, in a bid to quell the resurgence of coronavirus.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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