Coronavirus lockdown will end on December 2 – but tier system may get tougher

As England is plunged back into a second national shutdown millions of Brits will be fretfully thinking about Christmas.

MPs voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to impose strict restrictions in England in a bid to stem the spread of Coronavirus.

As the death toll increased by more than 400, Parliament agreed to shut England down for weeks to combat the killer bug.

Households have been banned from mixing and all-but-essential shops have been ordered to close.

Businesses must operate from home unless they absolutely can’t, and travel – international or domestic – has also been taken off the cards.

The second national lockdown differs slightly from the first wave of the pandemic, as children can still go to school.

Brits can meet up with one other person in a park to take a walk or have a sit down – if it’s socially distanced.

But as many will remember, the original lockdown seemed to be never ending – so the question this time round for many will be: When will it end?

Legally, the lockdown will expire on December 2.

Boris Johnson has, also, promised colleagues and businesses that the new measures will lapse on December 2.

He told the Confederation of British Industry Conference this week: “Believe me, we will end these autumn measures on December 2, when they expire."

The PM seemed to pour cold water on the idea that Michael Gove hinted at that it could be extended if the R rate does not start shrinking.

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On Monday, Boris told MPs: “Whatever happens these restrictions end on December 2 and any further measures will be a matter for this house”.

So legally the new lockdown laws will cease to be effective on December 2, and many will hope that will be the end of the shutdown.

If the virus has not shrunk – and the R rate is still significantly above 1 – then it will be up to MPs to vote on another package of measures.

Although this time Boris was comfortably supported in the Commons, thanks to votes from Labour, some of his own MPs did rebel – suggesting that a third lockdown might be harder for him to achieve.

What happens after lockdown?

So when lockdown eventually expires on December 2, Boris has repeatedly said he will return England to the tiered system.

That is Tier One having the loosest restrictions, such as the rule of six, distancing and curfews, with Tier Three having tough rules such as gyms closing and a ban on socialising.

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There has been a suggestion by Professor Chis Whitty that when we return to the tiered system, local lockdowns might be different.

The Chief Medical Officer told MPs that the PM might make the rules tougher.

Once we reach Boris’s deadline on December 2, we might see a return to a revamped tier system.

Prof Whitty told the Science and Technology Committee: “The aim of the whole thing is that R is not greater than one.

“I do think it is sensible to see how we go on this but I have quite a lot of faith in the adherence of the general public that would lead to the R reducing.

“That’s what I anticipate and that’s what all the data shows. People intend to do this and I am expecting that the R will drop.”

He added: “I think that the Prime Minister would probably want us to look at whether there should be variations on exactly the same tiering system, rather than just assuming we would just revert to an absolutely identical one.”

So legally lockdown expires on December 2, and Boris has promised that it won’t be extended – but when we return to the three-tier system, it is likely that the rules will be made even tougher.

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