Boris Johnson relaxes the national coronavirus lockdown and says families can meet to celebrate Christmas

Boris Johnson relaxes the national coronavirus lockdown and says families can meet to celebrate Christmas
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Boris Johnson announces that the national coronavirus lockdown will end on December 3.
  • He tells the House of Commons that it will be replaced with a new three-tier system across England, which will last until Spring.
  • Non-essential retail will be allowed to re-open while spectator sports and religious services will also be able to resume.
  • However, household mixing indoors will remain banned across most of England.
  • Johnson confirmed that a UK-wide announcement that households will be able to mix for a number of days over the Christmas period should be expected later this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that national coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed from December 3, with a new series of tiered restrictions being implemented across England.

Under the new restrictions, which are due to last at least until March, household mixing will remain banned for most people in England, but non-essential shops and entertainment and hospitality venues will reopen in large parts of the country, Johnson confirmed to the House of Commons.

Johnson told members of Parliament that while "the scientific cavalry is now in sight" in terms of a working coronavirus vaccine "we are not there yet."

"We are not going to replace national measures with a free-for-all," Johnson said, confirming that the new tiered system would be tougher than that seen in England before the national lockdown.

Spectator sports will be allowed to return for the first time since the start of the pandemic, with strict limits on crowd sizes. Pub opening hours will also be extended with doors closing an hour later at 11pm.


Pubs and restaurants in tier two will only be allowed to serve alcohol to people in the same household as part of "substantial meals," and in tier three they will have to be takeaway-only.

Johnson did not confirm which areas will be placed in which tier. However, he confirmed that the new tiers will be set out later this week, most likely on Thursday.

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.

The details of the government's Christmas plan are yet to be confirmed. However, ITV's Robert Peston reported that up to three households will be allowed to form bubbles for five days between December 23 and 27.

Johnson said that households will be allowed to come together over the Christmas period. 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.


Downing Street sources confirmed that the full details of the Christmas plan will be announced later this week, possibly as soon as Tuesday, once it has been signed off by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales as part of a UK-wide approach.

Johnson to scrap 14-day isolation period for coronavirus contacts

Boris Johnson relaxes the national coronavirus lockdown and says families can meet to celebrate Christmas
A soldier from the 1st battalion Coldstream Guards greets members of the public at a coronavirus testing centre set up at the Merseyside Caribbean Council Community Centre on November 11, 2020 in Liverpool, England.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

It is shaping up to be a major week in the UK's fight against the coronavirus, with Prime Minister Johnson also set to make two major announcements on the country's testing regime.

Firstly, the prime minister intends to scrap the 14-day isolation requirement for individuals who come into contact with people infected by the virus. Instead, contacts will be able to take a test every day for a week and will only have to isolate if one of those tests returns a positive result, The Telegraph reported. The system is being trialled in Liverpool next week.

Secondly, the government will commit to giving all regions in England put in tier 3 access to mass-community testing, after the successful trial of rapid lateral flow tests in Liverpool. These tests produce COVID-19 test results in 30 minutes and are designed to be carried out on every single member of a local population.

Johnson today told MPs that while the number of new coronavirus cases in England is "flattening off" after the imposition of the national lockdown earlier this month, the country is "not out of the woods yet."


However, he said that "with expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there."

"The major testing programme will draw on the use of tens of millions of tests in the coming weeks and months and form part of a package of measures that confirm the end of national restrictions and a return to regional tiers."