Boris Johnson will outline his winter Covid recovery plan to curb the spread of the virus tomorrow.
The proposed plans will include the re-introduction of the three tier system once England’s lockdown is lifted on December 2.
But Brits will be told to expect a strengthened set of regional restrictions as No 10 fears the virus “could quickly run out of control again”.
It is not clear what Tier 1 rules will be – with the “rule of six” and 10pm curfew originally slapped on those living in medium-risk areas.
But under the ramped-up Tier 2 and 3 rules, millions of Brits will be banned from mixing with other households indoors, The Sunday Times reports.
There will be a brief reprieve for up to five days over Christmas to allow families to celebrate together before they are plunged into the tough restrictions in the new year.
Beauty salons, gyms and hairdressers are also expected to open in this time for a “morale boost”.
But once the Christmas relief is over, families face months without being able to see each other.
This is so the UK can return to “normal life” by Easter.
It is hoped by then vaccines will be available to everyone and the government will be able to get a grip on the virus.
A senior government source told the paper: “Most people will be in Tier 2 or Tier 3.
“The tiers get switched off over Christmas and then switched back on again.”
Plans for the Christmas “armistice” are being thrashed out by Michael Gove and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as some households will need to travel to see their loved ones over the festive period.
A government source said: “This is the plan to get us through to Easter when hopefully we will have vaccines in people’s arms.
“That will allow us to get life back to something close to normal.”
CHRISTMAS ‘NOT NORMAL’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today addresses speculation from Public Health England that relaxing the rules for Christmas would lead to five days of tougher rules.
He said: “”That’s why I said it’s not going to be a normal Christmas this year. I think the good news is we’re going to be exiting national restrictions, which is something that I think people at the beginning of this were doubtful of and we said that was very much what we wanted to deliver, and we are going to deliver that.
“The Prime Minister will be setting out more details tomorrow about going back to a more localised approach, seeing what we can do to allow families to see each other at Christmas time.
“But it is not going to be normal.”
The PM will convene his Cabinet later today before he formally announces his strategy in Parliament tomorrow.
Senior ministers were in talks yesterday to work through the plans.
Documents will also be published in the next 24 hours with warnings from government advisers that the previous tiers regime was too weak.
A source said: “The going is going to get tough — get ready for tiers on steroids.”
It could mean some areas facing fresh measures such as extra travel bans and curbs on overnight stays.
Scientists last week warned 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 Boris and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have emphasised the need to return to a “functioning economy”.
This means the public can expect more areas to be thrown into higher tiers in a bid to prevent any further national lockdown measures.
Some will see tiers enhanced, which officials believe will safeguard the progress made since the national effort was brought in on November 5.
No 10 is adamant recent positive news on vaccines and mass testing could mean restrictions are gradually wound down towards spring 2021.
After tomorrow’s announcement, people face a nervous wait until Thursday when they will be told which areas will be placed into the various tiers.
In one positive step, Boris is said to be calling time on the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
He instead plans to extend opening hours until 11pm – with the hope this will stop revellers congregating in crowds on the streets.
It will also give diners an extra hour to finish their meals and provide a boost for the hospitality sector, which has been ravaged by the pandemic.
But pubs that do not serve food might remain closed in places with the highest infection rates.
The 10pm curfew was slammed after it was introduced in September after crowds gathered outside to drink and the Tube was compared to rush hour.
One insider told the Mail on Sunday: “10pm last orders and being allowed to stay longer sounds eminently sensible.”
And in a boost for the struggling high street, all shops will remain open when lockdown ends – even if they’re in the strictest tiers.
Grassroots games will also get a nod from Boris with kids’ team sports set to return from next month.
The Government will not decide until it has analysed new data and the impact of the latest nationwide restrictions.
But the PM, who is still self-isolating in Downing Street, faces a major rebellion from his own side when the new tier system — which he will keep under ongoing review — goes to a vote in the Commons.
The Covid Recovery Group, led by former chief whip Mark Harper and ex-Brexit Minister Steve Baker, is set to fight the new measures.
A letter seen by The Sun on Sunday has been signed by 70 Tory MPs along with 14 peers, declaring their outrage at the approach.
It states: “Government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so MPs can assess responsibly the non-Covid health impact of restrictions, as well as the undoubted impact on livelihoods.
“Today, the lockdown cure prescribed runs the very real risk of being worse than the disease.”
It adds: “We cannot live under such a series of damaging lockdowns and apparently arbitrary restrictions, and expect our constituents to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season, only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihoods.
“Our country instead needs a different and enduring strategy for living with the virus that can last beyond Christmas.
“Restrictions should be removed immediately if it cannot be shown that they are saving more lives than they cost.”
CALLS FOR ‘CLARITY’
While Shadow business minister Lucy Powell has called for clarity to allow the UK to plan through to 2021.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I think what we now need for the first time really in this pandemic is we need a lot more clarity, we need a blueprint, a route map to take us through from now through to next year.
“So that families know what they’re supposed to be doing when, just as importantly so that businesses can plan whether they are reopening and, if they are, under what terms and how they can continue over the coming weeks.
“We need this now to be a route map through to next year when hopefully the vaccine and mass testing will come on stream and make things easier for all of us.”
A No 10 spokesman said last night: “Everyone’s efforts during the current national restrictions have helped bring the virus back under control, slowed its spread and eased NHS pressures.
“But the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present and without regional restrictions it could quickly run out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.
“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made.”