Christmas shopping is set to return to high streets after the English lockdown ends but pubs and restaurants will face tougher new restrictions, reports say.
The hospitality industry is set to bear the brunt while shops and gyms can reopen from December 2 when the national lockdown in England is replaced by a revamped three-tier system.
Most of the country is likely to be placed in Tiers 2 and 3, and the rules for the top tiers are set to be tightened, as Boris Johnson unveils his Winter Covid Plan later today.
Pubs and restaurants, previously allowed to be fully open in Tier 2, will now only be able to sell alcohol with food, the Telegraph reports.
And in Tier 3, hospitality venues are likely to become takeaway-only.
Boris Johnson is to detail his winter strategy on Monday afternoon, with a proposal to deploy a major mass testing scheme to end the need for coronavirus contacts to self-isolate an attempt to winner over rebels on the Conservative backbenches.
It is understood that he will tell MPs that non-essential shops can open in all three tiers after the current restrictions expire in just over a week, in a boost for retailers during the festive period.
All shops can open their doors regardless of tier, as can places of worship, and recreational sports can also return.
Ministers have been accused of using the hospitality industry as a “sacrificial lamb”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak had reportedly pushed for pubs and restaurants to be allowed to re-open on December 22 to allow them to ease the pressure but he appears to have been overruled by the PM.
Ministers will on Thursday set out what tier each area will enter, while one easing expected is to the 10pm curfew rule for pubs and restaurants.
Mr Johnson is understood to be preparing to unveil a plan so 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.
The Government will, meanwhile, continue to encourage people to “work from home if you can” across the UK.
It comes as blanket quarantine restrictions are also set to be eased in time for Christmas so families can travel to high-risk “red list” countries to visit relatives.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is to announce that restrictions will be slashed from 14 days to five if holidaymakers test negative five days after returning to the country.
The regulations will be changed to enact the new five-day regime on December 15 or 16, with people freed from quarantine as soon as they get their test results.
Meanwhile extended families are set to celebrate the festive period together as households will be allowed to temporarily “bubble up” for up to five days.
Ministers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to allow “some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days” over Christmas, the Cabinet Office has said.
The number of households is yet to be confirmed with reports it could be three or four in one bubble.
The Sun reports that the ban on household mixing in Tiers 2 and 3 will likely be lifted for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day through to the delayed Boxing Day Bank Holiday on December 28.
And in Tier 1, the “Rule of Six” is set to be suspended to allow bigger groups to celebrate.
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