Shops, gyms and football stadiums set to reopen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says England will return to a three-tier system of COVID-19 restrictions on December 2 with spectators set to return to outside sporting events. Tony McDonough reports

Anfield, Liverpool FC
A limited number of spectators could return to stadiums after December 2


Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered details of which businesses will be allowed to open from December 2 when the current COVID-19 lockdown ends.

Addressing the House of Commons via a video link, Mr Johnson said English regions will return to a three-tier system of restrictions from Thursday, December 2, and revealed gyms and non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen and spectators would be allowed to attend outdoor sporting events.

However, individual regions will not find out which tier they will be in until the next announcement on Thursday. Prior to the lockdown Liverpool city region had been placed in the highest Tier 3 restrictions amid soaring cases of COVID-19 and heavy pressure on local hospitals.

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In October infection rates were as high as 700 cases per 100,000 in some parts of the city region. Data released by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram on Monday revealed evidence that the control measures of the last few weeks had had a significant effect with the overall city region infection figure now standing at 185.9 per 100,000.

St Helens and Halton have the highest rates at around 231 per 100,000 with Wirral having the lowest rate of the six boroughs at 146 per 100,000. The number of people with COVID-19 occupying hospital beds is also falling but at a slower rates. As of November 17 there were 624 patients in hospital, down from 701 a week earlier.

Given the big fall in cases local political and business leaders will hope the region will be placed in Tier 1 or 2 rather than Tier 3. The proposed restrictions are as follows:

  • In tier one, people should continue to work from home where possible.
  • In tier two, only pubs serving meals can open.
  • In tier three, hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway and indoor entertainment venues must also close.
  • Where pubs are allowed to open, last orders will now be at 10pm, with drinkers allowed a further hour to finish their drinks.

Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen and up to 4,000 spectators will be able to attend outdoor sporting events, but only in Tiers 1 and 2. Weddings and collective worship will also be allowed to resume.

In terms of household mixing, a maximum of six people can meet indoors or outdoors in tier one. In tier two, there is no mixing of households indoors apart from support bubbles, while a maximum of six people can meet outdoors. In tier three, household mixing is not allowed indoors, or in most outdoor places. In all tiers, exceptions apply for support bubbles.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the Commons via video link


Mr Johnson welcomed the news of the success of multiple vaccines with Oxford/AstraZeneca revealing on Monday that their vaccine may offer protection against both transmission and disease with an efficacy of up to 90%. He said: “For the first time since this wretched virus took hold we can see a route out of the pandemic.”

Mr Rotheram confirmed that regional leaders still did not know which tiers they would be placed into. He repeated his call for more support for struggling businesses, particularly the 3m business people, such as company directors, who had been excluded from the support measures.

He also said Liverpool city region would unveil its own support package for freelance workers in the coming weeks. The Metro Mayor added: “I and other local leaders are still doing everything we can to help protect people’s jobs and businesses – as well as their health and safety.”

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