Lockdown WILL be lifted on Dec 2 but ban on household mixing may be on the cards to save Christmas


LOCKDOWN will be lifted on December 2 but a ban on household mixing may be on the cards to save Christmas, it has been suggested.

Ministers have repeatedly stressed that the national shutdown will come to an end in law, but warned the “hard yards” of the shutdown is unlikely to unlock all of England completely.

Lockdown will end legally on December 2 – but ministers are looking at what will replace it this week

There could be a ban on household mixing in the winter months to get transmission low before a possible lifting at Christmas

Boris Johnson is hoping there can be a special relaxation of measures over Christmas

England is expected to be plunged back into a regional lockdown – known as Tiers – but it could be even tougher than the system in place before the national measures in order to release people for Christmas dinners, it was suggested last night.

PHE directer Dr Susan Hopkins set alarm bells ringing by saying that the lowest tier – with a 10pm curfew and the rule of six – was not working and would need to be beefed up.

It could mean even Brits in parts of the country with the lowest infection rates could face up to a household mixing ban after December 2 – which is the next level up from Tier 1.

And sources told Politico that a possible ban on indoor socialising would take place in the first week of December.

The hope would be that cases could remain low enough that they could be eased over the festive period.

One source said the Government’s scientific advisers were looking at how they could roll out “standalone” measures for a short window over Christmas to let people see their families.

Dr Hopkins said last night: “We see very little effect from Tier 1.

“When we look at what the Tiers may be in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone.”

The PM’s hope is that even stricter regional lockdowns in the the first part of December could push coronavirus cases down far enough that there could be a relaxation of measures over Christmas to save family dinners and get-togethers.

Advisers are trying to hammer out a plan to do this safely without causing a surge in cases – and eventually deaths.

Speaking this morning, the Housing Secretary warned that although lockdown will technically end, it won’t spell a massive release of other regional measures.

Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve always said that it’s our hope and expectation that on December 2, the national measures will come to an end, in fact that’s a matter of law.

“The tiers will reflect the different rates of the virus in different parts of the country, what we do want to see is a very significant easing – that was the purpose of going the hard yards in November.”

But Mr Jenrick warned that although pubs, restaurants and shops will “by and large” be able to open in December, measures will need to be “stiffer” in some places.

And the Housing Secretary admitted ramped up versions of the local lockdown tiers could bake in a 9pm booze ban like was in place in Nottinghamshire’s Tier 3 before the national shutdown.

It would mean people would be unable to stock up on beer after leaving the pub.

Ministers have repeatedly said that people are less likely to social distance when they have been drinking, and indoor environments pose the biggest risk.