The national lockdown ends today (Picture: Getty; AP)
The country has been in a national lockdown for four weeks, with indoor social visits banned and pubs told to close except for takeaways.
Today the restrictions officially come to an end – but for millions, they won’t see all that much difference, as a new system of local lockdowns has come into force.
England is returning to the tiered levels of lockdown that were in place before November 5.
It means that each region will be given a number that corresponds to the severity of restrictions.
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The lowest level of restrictions is tier one – but only three regions of England have been put into this level: The Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Aside from this, 99% of the country has been put into the toughest tier two and tier three restrictions.
The Commons backed the plans yesterday evening despite a Conservative rebellion.
Pubs in tier two areas – covering 57% of England’s population – can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’ and are also covered by rules restricting households mixing indoors, severely harming trade.
In tier three areas, pubs and restaurants can only offer takeaway and delivery services.
The Prime Minister acknowledged concerns about perceived ‘injustice’ in the allocation of tiers as he faced a series of Tory complaints.
‘There’s no question people feel that they have been unfairly attracted, by proximity, into a higher tier than they deserve,’ he said.
‘People also feel that the tiering is not working for them.’
He indicated that the Government would look at a more focused approach when deciding arrangements in future – a key demand of Tories concerned that low infection rates in some areas were not being reflected in the restrictions being imposed.
‘We will try to be as sensitive as possible to local efforts and to local achievements in bringing that pandemic under control,’ he added.
When will lockdown end?
The tiers will be reviewed every fortnight =.
Mr Johnson has also promised MPs a fresh vote on whether to keep the entire system beyond February 2.
But some Tory MPs were left unhappy that impact assessments of the tiered system published on Monday did not include a detailed breakdown of the effects of the measures on different parts of the economy.
The travel rules between the three tiers explained (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
That feeling was further compounded after a report in the Times suggested there is a Whitehall dashboard showing Covid-19’s impact on almost 40 sectors of the economy, with a red rating – indicating significant job cuts and revenue losses – against dozens of them, including aerospace, the automotive industry, retail, hospitality and tourism, arts and sport.
The anger on the Tory benches was set out by prominent backbenchers.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee of Tories and an MP in Tier 3 Greater Manchester, said: ‘If Government is to take away fundamental liberties of the people whom we represent, they must demonstrate beyond question that they’re acting in a way that is both proportionate and absolutely necessary.
‘Today, I believe the Government has failed to make that compelling case.’
Former Cabinet minister Damian Green, an MP in tier three Kent, said the plans lacked public support, adding: ‘I’ve had the most angry emails over a weekend since the Dominic Cummings trip to Barnard Castle.’
Andrea Leadsom, another ex-Cabinet minister, said: ‘I can’t and won’t inflict deliberate harm on my constituency unless I can see for myself that to do nothing would be worse.’
Former Brexit secretary David Davis said a ‘policy of maximum protection for minimum damage’ was needed and ‘this policy is not it’.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister’s strategy posed a ‘significant’ health risk and it was ‘highly unlikely’ to see restrictions eased in parts of the country before Christmas.
He accused Mr Johnson of ‘over-promising and under-delivering’ by pursuing an approach of short-term decisions that then ‘bump into the harsh reality of the virus’.
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