STRICTER regional tier restrictions will be enforced in England at the end of the national coronavirus lockdown, the Government has announced.

The new rules will allow non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and gyms to reopen in the run to Christmas, but restrictions in all three tiers will be toughened up to prepare for a hard winter.

Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Boris Johnson told MPs lockdown measures won't be renewed after they expire on Wednesday, but there will be a return to “tougher” regional tiers.

Here is what the new rules, which come into place from next Thursday, mean for residents:

  • Residents in tiers one and two can meet up with up to five other people from other households outdoors.
  • Non-essential shops will reopen across England.
  • Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen with the curfew in tier one areas extended to 11pm, with last orders remaining at 10pm. However, those pubs in a tier two areas must serve food to open. In tier three areas pubs and restaurants will only be allowed to offer takeaways.
  • Gyms, hairdressers and personal care businesses will be allowed to reopen.
  • Grassroots outdoor sport, collective worship and weddings will also be allowed to restart.
  • Mass testing will be introduced in all tier three areas.
  • In tier three areas indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will have to close.

Essex County Council placed the county into tier two just before the national lockdown.

The authority will request the county is returned to tier one after the end of lockdown, however, the Government will make the final decision on Thursday, with more areas likely to face tougher restrictions.

Mr Johnson said: "I’m sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before but by using these tougher tiers and by using rapid turnaround tests on an ever greater scale to drive R below one and keep it there, it should be possible for areas to move down the scale to lower levels of restrictions.”

Rapid testing will be used by the end of the year to allow every care home resident to have two visitors who can be tested twice a week.

Plans are also being put in place to allow up to 4,000 spectators to return to watch elite sport in the least affected areas.

Mr Johnson praised advances in testing, treatment and vaccines and said the “scientific cavalry is in sight” :

"We know in our hearts that next year we will succeed. By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we have endured in 2020 and make the whole concept of a Covid lockdown redundant."

But he added: "The hard truth is we’re not there yet. First we must get through winter without the virus spreading out of control and squandering our hard-won gains at exactly the time where the burden on the NHS is always greatest."