First of all, the good news is that freedom from a national lockdown is still looking likely from December 2. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick today (Tues Nov 17) confirmed that the government was committed to its original timeline, and that means ending lockdown at the start of next month. Get those party poppers poised!
Speaking to Sky News, Jenrick said: ‘We’re still in national lockdown measures, but we will come out of lockdown on December 2 – that’s a legal certainty.’ He explained that any extension to lockdown would require a vote in parliament before asserting that the government’s ‘hope and expectation’ was that areas of England would move back into a tiered system, as was the case before Lockdown 2.
So what does that mean for London? Before Lockdown, the capital was in Tier 2. If you need your memory jogging (this year is more than a bit of a blur, eh?), that meant that restrictions were in place to prevent interactions between households in indoor venues. Pubs and restaurants remained open – albeit with a 10pm curfew – and we were allowed to visit their outdoor spaces with those outside our household bubble, in groups of up to six. Shops, gyms, cinemas and hair and beauty salons were also open under Tier 2, but with social distancing measures in place. And while you couldn’t have people round to your house, you could invite them into your garden. (For even more of a reminder, check the guidelines we published here last time around.)
Having said all of that, two important factors remain: 1) the government is yet to confirm if the levels of tiers will be the same as they were last time and 2) it’s unknown if London would keep its Tier 2 status.
To the first point, during a Downing Street press conference yesterday (Mon Nov 16), the deputy director of Public Health England Dr Susan Hopkins suggested that the Tier system needed strengthening, with restrictions in Tier 1 seen as not strict enough to keep the spread of the virus at bay.
And as for the rest, the government would need to take a view closer to December 2 to determine the status of each area in England – at which point it’s to be hoped that Lockdown 2 would have started to have an impact on reducing case numbers. ‘We expect if the lockdown is working… that we will start to see cases decline over the next week,’ said Hopkins yesterday.
In the meantime, here are all the current rules around Lockdown 2 in England.