England faces ‘indoor socialising ban’ until EASTER under Covid rules

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Indoor gatherings are not allowed under tiers two and three which 99 percent of the English population is facing from next week. The measures will affect 55 million people but the Prime Minister said this is not the time for “taking our foot off the throat of the beast”.

MPs will vote on Boris Johnson’s new coronavirus tiers plan on Tuesday.

More than 32 million people will be living under tier two restrictions, while a further 23 million people will be placed under tier three.

Senior sources told the Daily Mail it is “unrealistic” to expect areas in the top two tiers will be moved down to tier one by spring.

The newspaper has suggested as many as 70 government backbenchers could rebel against Boris Johnson when the new measures are voted on.

It means Mr Johnson may need Labour votes to support the tier system.

The Prime Minister said the measures are expected to remain in place until the end of March.

Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly, the remaining one per cent of the population, will be in tier one.

Kent and areas of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester, are in tier three.

Most places are in tier two, such as London and the Liverpool City Region.

Shops, hairdressers and gyms can reopen from December 2 in all three tiers.

The ‘Christmas Bubble’ allowance means up to three households will be allowed to stay together from December 23 to 27.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference the rules tightened would “strike a balance”.

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He said “every area has the means of escape”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons: “Hope is on the horizon but we still have further to go. So we must all dig deep.”

The measures are expected to remain in place until the end of March.

Robert Jenrick says the government must try and win over rebelling MPs.

He told Sky’s Kay Burley: “We have a job to do to speak to and convince our parliamentary colleagues.

“These measures are things we do with a really heavy heart. None of us, from the prime minister downwards, want to be doing this.

“But we do think a strong tiered approach enables a localised, proportionate way forward. It’s infinitely better than the alternative, which is to have further national lockdowns.”

Mr Johnson said: “If we ease off now we risk losing control of this virus all over again, casting aside our hard-won gains and forcing us back to a New Year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean.”

Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said people should avoid physical contact with elderly relatives.

He said: “Would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their elderly relatives? No I would not.”

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