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Full list of Tiers and areas
Here is the full list of Tiers and areas published by the Government

Tier 1: Medium alert

– South East

Isle of Wight

South West

Cornwall

Isles of Scilly

Tier 2: High alert

– North West

Cumbria

Liverpool City Region

Warrington and Cheshire

– Yorkshire

York

North Yorkshire

West Midlands

Worcestershire

Herefordshire

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

– East Midlands

Rutland

Northamptonshire

– East of England

Suffolk

Hertfordshire

Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough

Norfolk

Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea

Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

– London

all 32 boroughs plus the City of London

– South East

East Sussex

West Sussex

Brighton and Hove

Surrey

Reading

Wokingham

Bracknell Forest

Windsor and Maidenhead

West Berkshire

Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton

Buckinghamshire

Oxfordshire

– South West

South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor

Bath and North East Somerset

Dorset

Bournemouth

Christchurch

Poole

Gloucestershire

Wiltshire and Swindon

Devon

Tier 3: Very High alert

– North East

Tees Valley Combined Authority: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington

North East Combined Authority: Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, County Durham, Northumberland

– North West

Greater Manchester

Lancashire

Blackpool

Blackburn with Darwen

– Yorkshire and The Humber

The Humber

West Yorkshire

South Yorkshire

– West Midlands

Birmingham and Black Country

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

– East Midlands

Derby and Derbyshire

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

Leicester and Leicestershire

Lincolnshire

– South East

Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)

Kent and Medway

– South West

Bristol

South Gloucestershire

North Somerset

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Covid-19: Local authorities in England to discover their post-lockdown tiers
The Health Secretary is to set out which tier each local authority in England will fall under after the end of the national lockdown. Matt Hancock will make the announcement in Parliament on Thursday after the Government set out its Covid-19 “winter plan” earlier this week.

Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.

Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.

On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, with The Times reporting parts of eastern England and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria are expected to be allocated the lightest measures.

Meanwhile London was expected to go in Tier 2 along with the majority of the country.

Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”

The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels would be based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.

How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.

The final decisions will be made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Covid Operations Committee, the Government said.

Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said he hoped the area – which was the first to enter the highest tier last time – would not return to Tier 3 restrictions.

He said: “The progress we’ve made since we were put in Tier 3 is remarkable – we’ve gone from having two areas with infection rates of about 750 per 100k to 180 across the city region.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said it was “more likely than not” his area would be made subject to Tier 3 restrictions.

He said although infection numbers in Greater Manchester were still high, the rates were falling.

He added: “If things continue in this direction at the rate at which we are seeing change in Greater Manchester, I would want to ask the Government for a serious review of Greater Manchester’s position at the first review of tiering arrangements which is scheduled to take place two weeks from now.”

Meanwhile, Lancashire’s council leaders have submitted a proposal to the Government to divide the county into two different tiers when the lockdown ends next week.

A request has been made for Hyndburn, Rossendale, Burnley, Pendle and Preston to go into Tier 3 restrictions while Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, Chorley, South Ribble, Ribble Valley and West Lancashire would go into Tier 2.

And London mayor Sadiq Khan said it would be the “right and sensible decision” for the capital to be placed in Tier 2, as he warned that Tier 3 would be a “hammer blow” to businesses.

The reimposition of the tier system in England comes as scientists warned easing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic and another lockdown.

The Prime Minister urged the public to “think carefully” over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to form a Christmas “bubble” from December 23 to 27.

Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the relaxation of restrictions over the festive period could lead to more people being admitted to hospital and further lockdown measures in the new year.

Meanwhile, Government figures showed a further 696 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, with the UK total now standing at 56,533.

A further 18,213 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said rules allowing people to meet up at Christmas are likely to be tightened when they are set out on Thursday.

She said: “The expectation should be that the guidance will probably look to tighten around the edges rather than further expand and that will be true with the travel window of opportunity as well – we want to limit that window, not expand it.”

The Welsh Cabinet is also expected to meet to decide whether further restrictions similar to the English tier system will be needed before Christmas, although a decision is not likely to be announced until Friday.

In Northern Ireland, tougher lockdown restrictions will be introduced from Friday, with pubs, restaurants, non-essential retail and close contact services to close for a fortnight.

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

The world’s lost a legend – Pele leads tributes to Diego Maradona
Pele paid tribute to his fellow all-time great Diego Maradona after the Argentinian’s death at the age of 60, saying: “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.” The Brazilian three-time World Cup winner was often Maradona’s closest competitor in polls to decide the greatest footballer of all time.

And the 80-year-old issued fulsome praise for his fellow South American, writing on his official Twitter account: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend.

“There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

Maradona’s death was confirmed by Argentina’s football association. He had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

He captained his country to World Cup glory in Mexico in 1986, and later led Napoli to two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

Lionel Messi, the greatest Argentinian of the current generation, wrote on Instagram: “A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

“I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”

Argentina eliminated England from the 1986 finals at the quarter-final stage, as Maradona scored twice. The first was a blatant handball – ‘the Hand of God as Maradona described it – and the second a stunning solo effort.

Gary Lineker, who was playing for England that day, tweeted: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.

“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”

Lineker later added on BT Sport: “I played for a Rest of the World side at Wembley, when I was at Barcelona, all the great players like (Michel) Platini on the pitch were all totally in awe of him.

“The first thing he did in the dressing room was sit there in just a pair of shorts, juggling his socks on his left foot for about five minutes.

“Then he went out on the pitch and did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I have even seen on a football pitch.

“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle, when he got there, still juggling, he went ‘bang’ and kicked the ball up as high as he could, then waited.

“It came down, he went ‘bang’ and did it again. He did it 13 times and the most he ever did was walk three paces to it.

“All of us were sitting there saying: ‘that is impossible’.”

European football’s governing body UEFA held minute’s silences before all Wednesday night’s Champions League matches in tribute to Maradona.

Boca Juniors, where Maradona made his name before securing a then world-record transfer to Barcelona in 1982, tweeted: “Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego.”

Asif Kapadia, who directed the 2019 film Maradona, tweeted: “Can’t quite believe DM has gone. Hard to process.

“He always seemed indestructible. I had 10 hours with the man!! I touched his left foot. We did our best to show the world the man, the myth, the fighter he was. The greatest.”

Peter Reid, another member of the England side which suffered at the hand and the left foot of Maradona in 1986, spoke highly of the South American’s incredible footballing gift.

“The second (goal) is a man at the height of his ability and quite simply he is one of the best players to walk the planet,” Reid told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We opted not to man-mark him, thank God I wasn’t given that job. Belgium tried it in the semi-final with Eric Gerets, who was a great player, and he still tore them apart.

“He was one of those players, whatever way you went about, if he was playing well on the day he was very, very difficult to stop.”

Speaking about the second goal, Reid added: “With his balance and his strength he just went through us. It was just one of those things you can’t stop.

“I get asked ‘why didn’t you bring him down?’ and rest assured if I could have got there….I wake up in a cold sweat still thinking about it, and I still can’t get there.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on BT Sport: “There was a banner in Argentina some time ago when it said ‘it doesn’t matter what you have done with your life, it matters what you have done with our lives’.

“I think Maradona would have done in our generation. There are a few incredible players in history, and he is one of them.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who alongside Messi is regarded as one of the game’s greatest current players, also offered his own personal tribute.

The Juventus and Portugal star posted on Twitter: “Today I bid farewell to a friend and the world farewells to an eternal genius.

“One of the best ever, an unmatched magician. Leaves too soon but leaves a boundless legacy and a void that will never be filled. RIP. You will never be forgotten.”

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Argentina great Diego Maradona dies aged 60
Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60, the Argentine Football Association has announced.
The Argentina World Cup winner and the national team’s former manager had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

The AFA said on Twitter: “The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts.”

Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and was the inspiration for Argentina’s World Cup success in Mexico in 1986. He also led the country to the final of the 1990 tournament in Italy and managed them in South Africa in 2010.

Published: 25/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Great British Bake Off winner crowned
Peter Sawkins has been crowned the youngest ever winner of The Great British Bake Off. The 20-year-old accounting and finance student from Edinburgh also became the programme’s first winner from Scotland.

He saw off competition from Laura Adlington and Dave Friday in Tuesday’s episode of the Channel 4 amateur baking contest.

After being named as the winner, he said: “I can’t quite believe that I made it on the show, I can’t quite believe that the show happened.

“This is going to be a huge chapter of my life, and what a way for it to end.”

Judge Prue Leith praised his efforts in the competition after he was presented with the Bake Off trophy.

“I feel as if he’s my grandson or something, because he’s such a nice guy and he’s so eager to learn,” she said.

“You can’t not like him.”

Since filming took place during the summer, Peter has returned to university and has been unable to tell any of his housemates.

He took home the trophy after Laura’s poor performance in the first two rounds of the final took her out of contention.

Judge Paul Hollywood said the competition was “as close to a draw that I’ve ever seen”.

Leith agreed it was “so close” between Peter, who was the youngest ever finalist on the programme, and Dave, 30, a security guard from Hampshire.

The final saw the trio tasked with making custard slices, walnut whirls and a multi-layered showstopper dessert.

Peter took inspiration from the Scottish pudding Cranachan when making his custard slices, using raspberries, oats and whisky to flavour it.

Leith said they “looked incredible”, adding that he had made a “really lovely custard slice”, while Hollywood complimented their flavour.

Dave also won praise for his coffee and caramel-flavoured custard slices, with Hollywood praising his “beautiful” pastry.

However, Laura’s final began with a disastrous first round after her custard failed to set and her slices failed to hold their shape.

The 31-year-old digital manager from Kent told the judges she was “embarrassed” to serve her slices to them, adding they looked as though they had been dropped on the floor.

Laura also finished bottom in the walnut whirl challenge, which was completed in very hot conditions, after she messed up her timings and failed to have all the components properly cooled in time for the tasting.

Dave excelled in the technical challenge, finishing in first place ahead of Peter.

The three contestants were tasked with creating a multi-layered dessert which reflected on their time on the show in the final showstopper challenge.

Laura decided to recreate some of her previous triumphs in a dessert which featured components including Chelsea buns, macarons and carrot and walnut cake.

Leith praised her efforts, saying there is “nothing wrong with your baking”.

However, it was not enough to bring her back into contention.

Dave sought to redeem his failings in previous weeks by having a second go at some of the bakes he was criticised for in previous weeks, including brownies, chocolate babka and choux buns.

The judges gave mixed reviews of his attempt to right the wrongs of previous weeks.

Peter’s dessert featured components including a Victoria sandwich, choux buns and Battenberg biscuits and was labelled a “good effort” by Leith.

The showstopper round was watched by the entire crew for the 11th series of the programme, who formed a “bubble” in Down Hall Hotel near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, throughout the duration of filming, after being tested for the virus and self-isolating.

Production of the series initially had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, however filming of the programme finished around the end of August.

Published: 25/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Duchess of Sussex reveals miscarriage heartache
The Duchess of Sussex has revealed she suffered a miscarriage, losing her second child during the summer. In an article for the New York Times, Meghan wrote about losing her unborn baby in July while she and husband Harry were living in Los Angeles.

The duchess began her article by describing a typical morning getting up and looking after her son Archie: “After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp.

“I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.

“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.

“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears.

“Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”

Other royal women have experienced the loss of an unborn baby, with the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall suffering two miscarriages before having her second child.

The Countess of Wessex lost her first baby in December 2001 when she was airlifted to hospital after suffering a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage according to the charity Tommy’s, which funds research into miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births, with most women losing their babies during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Meghan writes in the article: “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realised that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?'”

She goes on to say: “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.

“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage.

“Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”

Published: 25/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Coronavirus vaccines should be compulsory for tennis players – Andy Murray
Andy Murray believes tennis players should be compelled to have a coronavirus vaccination in order to play in tournaments. Tennis, like almost every sphere of life, has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with events either unable to take place, played virtually or held behind closed doors.

There is considerable hope that by next spring vaccinations will be widely available and Murray would support a compulsory programme within the sport.

He said: “I think that probably should be the case. I would hope that all the players would be willing to do that for the good of the sport – providing everything has proved to be safe, clinical trials and everything have been done and there are not any significant side-effects.”

World number one Novak Djokovic generated headlines earlier this year for anti-vaccination comments. He later said that he was not against vaccinations but did not like the idea of being forced to have one.

Murray said: “I guess it would be difficult. I also read a few weeks after he’d said he wouldn’t be keen on doing that, if it was something that had to be done for him to play the sport, he would.

“So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the ATP and the ITF (International Tennis Federation) decide their position is going to be on that. But I’m confident that players would be into it if it meant the tour going back to normality.”

The 2020 season wrapped up with Daniil Medvedev winning the ATP Finals on Sunday but there is still considerable uncertainty over the calendar for next year.

Strict quarantine rules in Australia have cast doubt on the viability of the Australian Open, with players not able to arrive in the country until the end of December at the earliest and then required to quarantine for two weeks.

Discussions are ongoing over whether they will be able to train or compete during quarantine, and Murray is anticipating that the tournament will be pushed back from its planned start date of January 18.

The Scot said: “It’s obviously tricky for the players. Originally, we planned to go on the 12th or the 13th of December to arrive around the 15th. Then that changed and the latest I’ve heard is that they’ve planned to push it back a couple of weeks.

“I think that would be the best-case scenario now. That would allow the players to get over there at the beginning of January and prepare properly for the event. I’ll go as soon as I can.”

Murray would be prepared to stay in a hotel room for two weeks if that is what is required but hopes an arrangement can be found where players are able to play warm-up tournaments.

He said: “A lot of players are coming from very cold climates just now. To then go and ask players to play in 35, 36-degree heat with no match preparation, it just increases the risk of injuries.”

Murray brought his season to an early end last month because of a niggling issue with his left psoas muscle, which connects the spine and femur.

Having begun the year sidelined by a pelvic issue, the 33-year-old managed to play just seven official matches and cut a despondent figure after losing his last contest to Fernando Verdasco in Cologne.

But, nearly two years on from his hip resurfacing operation, Murray was bullish in a wide-ranging chat with reporters on Tuesday and insisted he can still return to the top of the game.

Spurred on by criticism from Mats Wilander after a chastening loss to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open, and a body-fat reading that he was not happy with, Murray has redoubled his efforts in the gym.

He said: “I’ve been trying to build towards beating all of my personal bests in the gym, which has been quite exciting for me. I’m really motivated to do that.

“The only thing that I maybe won’t get to the same level is the speed. But I’m hoping that, by improving my strength and my power, that will help me get a little bit faster on the court.

“There’s no reason why I can’t get back to what it was before. And that wasn’t the case probably in the last year really. So I feel good.

“I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis. I know I will perform and win big matches if I can get properly fit and healthy for an extended period of time.”

Murray said one of his big targets will be to try to win another Olympic medal in Tokyo having claimed singles gold in London and Rio, while he believes tennis should put in place a policy on what to do if a player is accused of domestic violence.

The ATP has been criticised for its response to accusations of serious assault made against world number seven Alexander Zverev by the German’s ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova.

Murray said: “That is obviously something we as a sport should be looking into. So that the ATP know what to do in that situation, rather than having to think and react to it. Obviously (they) need to take it extremely seriously.”

:: Andy Murray wears AMC, a premium tennis clothing brand created and designed by Murray and Castore.

Published: 25/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Harry Dunn’s parents lose High Court battle with Foreign Office
Harry Dunn’s parents have lost their High Court battle against the Foreign Office over whether their son’s alleged killer had diplomatic immunity. Mr Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by American Anne Sacoolas outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

Sacoolas, whose husband Jonathan Sacoolas worked as a technical assistant at the base, left the country a few weeks later after the US said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The 43-year-old was ultimately charged with causing death by dangerous driving last December, but an extradition request was rejected by the US State Department in January – a decision it later described as “final”.

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, claimed the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) wrongly decided Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity and unlawfully obstructed Northamptonshire Police’s investigation into their son’s death by keeping the force “in the dark”.

But, in a High Court judgment delivered on Tuesday, Lord Justice Flaux and Mr Justice Saini said: “Our conclusion is that Mrs Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry’s death.”

The judges also rejected Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn’s claim the FCDO “usurped” Northamptonshire Police’s investigation into their son’s death, finding officials “sought to assist rather than obstruct Northamptonshire Police in their investigation”.

Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn’s case centred on a 1995 agreement between the UK and the US, granting immunity to administrative and technical staff at RAF Croughton, which the US waived in relation to “acts performed outside the course of their duties”.

At a hearing earlier this month, their lawyers said the FCDO “took upon itself the authority to resolve the question of immunity and ultimately and unlawfully decided to accept the US embassy’s decision that Anne Sacoolas had immunity”.

Sam Wordsworth QC told the court that Sacoolas had “no duties at all” at the base and therefore “never had any relevant immunity for the US to waive”.

But Lord Justice Flaux and Mr Justice Saini found Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity “on arrival in the UK” under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) which had not been “expressly waived”, meaning she “had immunity at the time of Harry’s death”.

The judges said: “We do not come this conclusion with any enthusiasm for the result, but it is compelled by the operation of the VCDR.”

Published: 24/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Scotland poised to introduce ‘world-leading’ period products legislation
Scotland could become the first country to make period products freely available if MSPs vote for new legislation. Holyrood will vote on the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill, which intends to introduce a legal right of free access to items such as tampons and sanitary pads in public buildings.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has campaigned for the “world-leading” legislation to introduce free universal access to sanitary products.

Her member’s Bill has reached the final stage of becoming law with Scottish Government support, despite initial opposition and ministers arguing the cost could greatly exceed the estimated £9.7 million a year.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Ms Lennon said: “We are in the final miles of a long journey and I am heartened by the support for the Period Products Bill.

“I am optimistic that we will complete that groundbreaking journey today.

“Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first.

“This law will ensure no-one has to go without essential period products.”

She added: “Thanks to a bold grass roots campaign and cross-party support, Scotland has already taken great strides to improve access to period products.

“Legislation is a world-leading opportunity to secure period dignity for all women, girls and people who menstruate.

“The campaign has been backed by a wide coalition, including trades unions, women’s organisations and charities.

“Thousands of supporters have played a part, including people who shared their experiences of period poverty, and I am grateful to them all.”

Published: 24/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Johnson sets out details of tougher tiers to replace England’s lockdown
England will face tiered coronavirus restrictions until the end of March, despite the latest successful vaccine trials and rapid tests presenting a “route out of the pandemic”.
As the lockdown ends on December 2, more parts of England are expected to be placed into higher tiers than they were before the national restrictions were imposed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said the new tiers would be tougher than their predecessors, after Government scientific advisers said the previous regime did not do enough to tackle the virus.

The announcement of the new measures came as the Oxford-AstraZeneca team announced its vaccine had proved 70% effective.

Appearing via video link from coronavirus self-isolation in Downing Street, Mr Johnson told MPs the three-tiered approach had been beefed up.

Under the new system:

– In Tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.

– In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

The 10pm curfew will be relaxed, with last orders now closed at that time and premises ordered to shut at 11pm.

Setting out other measures that will be eased as the lockdown lifts, Mr Johnson said: “From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

“But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge.”

Details of which areas will be in which tiers will be set out on Thursday, Mr Johnson said.

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

A plan to allow families to be reunited for Christmas is being thrashed out with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Mr Johnson was unable to confirm details on Monday.

“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve 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.”

He acknowledged coronavirus “is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce” and warned that families will need to make a careful judgment about the risk of visiting elderly relatives.

Despite the tougher measures, the Government’s scientific advisers warned they might not go far enough and a “Tier 4” may be required in areas where Tier 3 restrictions are not able to shrink the epidemic.

The Sage scientific advisory panel also questioned the value of Tier 1, concluding that “Tier 2 is the minimum intervention required to maintain any degree of control on transmission”.

The latest figures showed a further 206 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday and there had been 15,450 more lab-confirmed cases.

As well as the progress on vaccines, Mr Johnson pointed to the expansion of rapid mass testing as a way of returning to something approaching normality.

This could include allowing people who test negative greater freedoms and the prospect of a daily test replacing precautionary self-isolation for people who come into contact with a coronavirus case.

Despite the progress on a vaccine and the testing developments, Mr Johnson acknowledged “this will still be a hard winter, Christmas cannot be normal and there is a long road to spring”.

“But we have turned a corner and the escape route is in sight,” he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister’s strategy was “risky” because the previous tiered system failed.

With Tory unrest over the impact of the restrictions on the economy and civil liberties, Labour support could be crucial and Sir Keir said his party had backed previous measures.

“Ideally, I’d like to be in a position to do so again,” he said. “But there are huge gaps in this plan, huge uncertainties and huge risks.”

While retailers welcomed the announcement that they will be allowed to reopen, there was fury in the hospitality and arts industries.

Acting Confederation of British Industry chief Josh Hardie said: “Positive news of vaccines offers a ray of light for 2021.

“But the next few weeks and months will for many feel like purgatory – stuck in limbo between a national lockdown and a new normal.”

Kate Nicholls, of trade body UKHospitality, said: “They are killing Christmas and beyond for many businesses and their customers who look forward to, and rely on, venues being open at this time of year.

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

But Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium said: “The Government’s decision to keep all of retail open will help to preserve jobs and the economy and help keep Christmas a festive occasion for everyone.”

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.

Published: 23/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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