BORIS Johnson will finally reveal how Brits can celebrate Christmas during the coronavirus pandemic in an address to the nation.
And although he will end the national lockdown, as promised, on December 2, the PM will unveil a much tougher new tier system to keep the virus under control.
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It comes as:
- A Government source told this paper: "The going is going to get tough — get ready for tiers on steroids"
- Rishi Sunak prepares to raise taxes in the spring
- Coronavirus cases fall by 13 per cent week-on-week – raising hopes the peak of the second wave is over
- Mass testing using pregnancy-style kits aims to halve quarantine times
- The 14-day travel quarantine will be slashed to five days in a bid to get Brits flying again
And Mr Johnson will give further details about what Brits can expect for their festive celebrations after months of speculation.
It's reported that there'll be a four-nation 'truce', which will see all families across the UK allowed the same number of days to celebrate with loved ones.
The Government is also in discussions about how it might allow some pantomimes to go ahead, the Mail on Sunday reports.
A wider opening of theatres is unlikely before next year, however.
Scientists last week warned that up to five days of tough lockdown could be needed to compensate for each day with fewer restrictions – meaning there could be up to 25 days of tighter rules.
But Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have emphasised the need to return to a "functioning economy", and a source said: "We've got to get normality back."
During his speech, given online as the PM is self-isolating, he will also set out details of a new winter plan to tackle Covid.
The proposals include a revised three-tier structure, which will be in place until the spring while scientists continue work on approving vaccines.
It was yesterday reported that every adult in the UK could have a Covid jab by April – and Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he's hopeful the country will be returning to normal by the spring.
However, the revised tier system will mean the toughest restrictions wear on for areas which had been in the highest levels before the new lockdown began.
And more areas could shift into strict new measures, with the final decision being made on Thursday.
While almost all shops will be allowed to reopen, bookmakers and so-called 'wet pubs' that do not serve food may be required to remain closed in places with the highest infection rates.
There may also be harsher controls on households mixing indoors.
A Government source said: "The new Tier 3 will look a lot tighter than the old version."
However, restrictions on playing sport are set to be relaxed.
Detailed discussions about allowing crowds into open-air stadiums are also continuing, although there's concern about how to get fans to and from venues without risking transmissions on public transport.
And the much-criticised 10pm curfew will also be binned, it's reported.
The PM intends to extend opening hours until 11pm – and while last orders will still be called at 10pm, punters will get another hour to finish drinks and meals.
It's hoped the plan will stop crowds gathering on the streets at kicking-out time.
The curfew has been widely criticised since it was introduced in September, and it's understood No10 hopes to show it's listening to backbenchers over unsuccessful measures with the move to end it.
One minister told the paper: "10pm last orders and being allowed to stay longer sounds eminently sensible."
Government officials are said to have a sense of renewed optimism over the success of vaccines, with one source claiming Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has a "spring in his step".
The Treasury is also reportedly pushing for gyms and the beauty industry to reopen, in line with non-essential shops, on December 2.
However, 70 Conservative MPs have written to the Prime Minister saying they will not vote for the reintroduction of the tier system unless the Government sets out their reasoning for the rules.
The letter, organised by Steve Baker and former chief whip Mark Harper, warns that Ministers "must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis".
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