PM faces back-bench revolt over new three-tier plans post Christmas

PM faces back-bench revolt over new three-tier plans post Christmas

Ministers will announce on Thursday which areas in England will be in each tier, but the government has signalled that more areas will be in higher tiers to keep the virus under control and avoid another national shutdown.

"With regard to Christmas, I think frustrating as it is for all of us, Christmas is not going to be normal this year, but, that said, the Prime Minister and everyone else, we're looking at ways to see how families can spend some time with each other over (the) Christmas period".

"The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration".

Steve Baker, one of 70 lawmakers who have written to Johnson with their concerns, said they can't support the approach unless the government can show the restrictions planned for after December 2 will have an effect on decreasing COVID-19 transmission, "and will save more lives than they cost".

Boris Johnson, who is still isolating in Downing Street, chaired a rare Sunday afternoon cabinet meeting, and on Monday will make a Commons statement and publish his "COVID Winter Plan".

It is not yet clear exactly how restrictions could change, but it is understood that the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be different.

He will confirm that England's national lockdown will end on 2 December, but the country will move back into a three-tier system of regional restrictions, which was in force from 14 October until 5 November.

"I'm afraid we still haven't made those decisions", he said.

The Daily Mail and The Sun reported that up to four households would be allowed to mix for up to five days, but Downing Street has denied that the PM will reveal how many households could mix and for how long when he unveils his "COVID Winter Plan" on Monday.

The group of 70 MPs could inflict a defeat on Boris Johnson's government in the Commons, but they would need the support of most opposition MPs, which is not likely to be forthcoming.

The prime minister is expected to say that, while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.

"There will be a price to pay for it, obviously, you relax restrictions and infection rates go up, you constrain and infection rates will come down as they are going down at the moment", he was quoted as saying.

Johnson faces a rebellion from some MPs from within his own Conservative Party, who have served notice that they are preparing to oppose the Winter Plan for restrictions to replace the national lockdown without extensive evidence of their absolute necessity.

Johnson's office confirmed plans to begin a nationwide vaccination program next month, assuming regulators approve a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a letter to the PM, they wrote: "We can not live under such a series of damaging lockdowns and apparently arbitrary restrictions and expect our constituents to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season, only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihoods".

"Fiddling at the edges of something like drinking-up times or pubs' closing times is simply not an effective mechanism".

The plans emerged as the Government said a further 739 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Coivd-19 as of the weekend, bringing the United Kingdom total to 55,024.

Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, in a speech on Saturday, said the nation could not be allowed to return "to the shambles we had before this lockdown".

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