Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown for England to try to tame a spiraling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised.
Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions they consider overly damaging to the economy without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
"We are going to go back ... to a regional, tiered approach," he told parliament virtually from his Downing Street office where he is self-isolating.
Trying to ease the concerns among skeptics within his party, he said the measures would run until the end of March when vaccines and wider testing might offer a way out of the crisis.
BORIS JOHNSON: From next Wednesday, people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six. Collective worship, weddings, and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms, and the wider leisure sector can reopen. But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Years surge.
So we're not going to replace national measures with a free-for-all [INAUDIBLE] status quo anti-COVID. We're going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach, applying the toughest measures where COVID is most prevalent. And while the previous local tiers did cut the number, cut the R number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below one. So the scientific advice, I'm afraid, is that, as we come out, our tiers need to be made tougher.
In particular, in tier one, people should work from home wherever possible. In tier two, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal. In tier three, indoor entertainment, hotels, and other accommodation will have to close, along with all forms of hospitality except for delivery and takeaways.