The Premier League will welcome fans back into stadiums from December

A vaccine jab

Ministers will also rapidly accelerate mass testing in Tier 3 areas to try to bring down the spread of the disease.

Johnson announced that England would re-enter a tiered system of toughened regional restrictions when the current lockdown expires on December 2, bolstered by major testing programmes in areas with the highest rates. The new system will go into effect even as positive news about multiple vaccines comes to light, including one from Oxford-AstraZeneca that is up to 90% effective.

MPs will vote on the plans later this week.

Pubs will be allowed to reopen and the closing time will be pushed from 10pm to 11pm, but under Tier 2 restrictions they will be allowed to only serve alcohol with a "substantial meal", and under Tier 3 they will only be allowed to serve takeaway alcohol.

Johnson made the announcement to the House of Commons on Monday ahead of an announcement due later this week that rules will be suspended for several days over Christmas, allowing multiple households to mix both at home and in pubs over the festive period.

"We know in our hearts that next year we will succeed".

Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party which urged Johnson to implement a national lockdown earlier, said a return to the tiered system that preceded it was "risky".

"I'm sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before", he warned.

"We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it", he said.

"But what we don't want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January". However, he said that the virus "will not have a Christmas truce" and urged families to think carefully about the risks of exposing elderly relatives to extra risk.

Up to 4,000 people can return to outdoor sports stadiums in parts of England classified as at low risk from coronavirus from December 2, the government said, permitting the resumption of attendance at football, rugby and racecourses among other sports. The capacity constraints in tiers 1 and 2 will lead to financial problems for venues and disappointment for audiences.

Health Minister Greg Hunt speaking at a press conference
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the different vaccines will be used in different circumstances

Despite the support for vaccination as a solution to the crisis, Johnson said that the government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19.

This could include greater freedoms for people who test negative and the prospect of daily tests replacing precautionary self-isolation for people who come into contact with an infected person. "But we have turned a corner and the escape route is in sight", Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister was unable on Monday to confirm details of how people across the United Kingdom would be able to spend the festive period.

He said: "I love Christmas". "But there are huge gaps in this plan, huge uncertainties and huge risks".

Gyms and leisure centres allowed to reopen across all tiers.

"This is very good news for businesses locally", he said.

"We have still got a hard few months ahead".

"Sadly, for many staff, it will be a Christmas out of work".

Premier League clubs can look forward to welcoming back spectators in highly limited numbers next month for the first time since March, following an announcement by the British government on Monday.

Meanwhile Che Donald, national vice chairman of the Police Federation, said a possible relaxation of rules over Christmas coupled with a return to the tier system would be "next to impossible" for officers to enforce.



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