Areas across England will find out today which Tier of Covid-19 rules they will have to follow when the lockdown is lifted on December 2.
The North East is likely to be put in Tier 2 or Tier 3, the high alert and very high alert categories. Either would see pubs remain closed, although venues which serve food with alcohol can open in Tier 2, but Tier 3 would see restaurants and cafes stay shut other than for takeaway and delivery orders.
People will not be allowed to mix with other households indoors in both Tier 2 and Tier 3, but outdoor mixing in groups of up to six will be permitted. In Tier 3, households will only be allowed to mix outdoors in public spaces, but in Tier 2 they will be allowed to do so in gardens.
Simon Emeny, chief executive of pub owner Fuller’s, said that like everyone in his industry he awaits the England tier announcements with “some degree of trepidation”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the really difficult pill for us to swallow this week is that the extra restrictions that have been placed in Tier 2 will render something like 73% of sites in the industry in Tier 2 unprofitable and they’re unlikely to open.”
Mr Emeny said it’s a “great worry” for the entire sector, and also the Chancellor, as pubs will not be contributing “much-needed tax revenues”.
He said the attitude towards the hospitality sector “seems to have completely turned on its head”.
“Whilst we can now go to gyms, we can now have our hair cut and go to all shops in all tiers, in pubs they are being singled out for their own unique tier system, which not only is unjustified, but depriving many communities of a vital local amenity over the Christmas break,” he said.
Shops, barbers, hairdressers, gyms, swimming pools and golf courses will be allowed to open across the North East from December 2, regardless of which tier County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland are in.
What time is the Tier announcement on Thursday?
Press Association says Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make an announcement at 11.30 on Thursday November 26, when he will reveal which areas will be placed in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.
Which Tier will Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland and the rest of the North East be in?
We expect County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland to be placed in either Tier 2 or Tier 3.
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said there is a “consensus” among North East council leaders that Tier 3 is the most likely outcome. But he added that falling Covid case rates are “very positive” and he is “not entirely 100%” sure that the toughest rules will be required.
On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, with The Times reporting parts of Suffolk and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria are expected to be allocated the lightest measures. Most of England will be placed in Tier 2.
Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.
“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.
“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”
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Will the Tiers change before Christmas?
They can do. The Tier system will be reviewed by December 16. Areas which show progress in slowing the spread of coronavirus could be moved into a lighter Tier of restrictions.
Will Boris Johnson be making a speech?
Yes, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Sky News that the Prime Minister will lead a Downing Street press conference later on Thursday November 26.
He added: “Whichever tier you’re in I think people will see a tangible change.
“That said, things are obviously not normal and I can’t pretend that next week things are going to feel like they were before the spring.”