New tough UK lockdown: how it affects Aussie expats
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce that restrictions across England are to end on December 2 as planned, his office said.
But the lockdown will be followed by a return to a tougher three-tiered set of regional restrictions, which will impact the more than 100,000 Australian expats living in the United Kingdom.
Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.
Mr Johnson is expected to set out his plan - including details of how families can see different households at Christmas - to MPs on Monday (local time).
England will be told to expect a strengthened set of regional restrictions when the country leaves lockdown on December 2 as Downing Street fears the virus "could quickly run out of control again".
More areas are set to be placed into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control, the British government said.
And some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the progress made during lockdown.
Some local measures will be the same as those in the previous three-tier system, which was in place in England until the current lockdown began.
Documents will also be published in the next 24 hours with warnings from government advisers that the previous tiers regimen was too weak, according to a report in The Sun.
"The going is going to get tough - get ready for tiers on steroids," a source reportedly told The Sun on Sunday:
It could mean some areas facing fresh measures such as extra travel bans and curbs on overnight stays.
However, Mr Johnson is expected to try to stagger drinkers' leaving times by extending pub closing to 11pm - although last orders will be at 10pm rather than the strict curfew enforced before lockdown.
Asked about this on on Sunday, Britain's finance minister, chancellor Rishi Sunak, said this was "definitely something that we're looking at".
He said: "One of the things that we've been able to do as we've learned is get data, see what works and see where we can improve things."
And almost all shops could reopen, but bookies and pubs that do not serve food might remain closed in places with the highest infection rates.
The cabinet is expected to discuss and finalise the plan on Sunday (local time) before Mr Johnson announces it to parliament.
But Mr Johnson faces opposition from MPs; a letter from the 70 MPs, also signed by 14 Conservative peers, told Mr Johnson that a tiered system "infringes deeply upon people's lives with huge health and economic costs".
"We cannot support this approach further unless the government demonstrates the restrictions proposed for after 2 December will have an impact on slowing the transmission of COVID, and will save more lives than they cost," they wrote.
"To this end, government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so that MPs can assess responsibly the non-COVID health impact of restrictions, as well as the undoubted impact on livelihoods."
This means Mr Johnson will be left with the uncomfortable prospect of having to rely on Labour votes when the plan is voted on by MPs next week.
Asked about the idea of a cost-benefit analysis, Mr Sunak said this was unlikely. "It's very hard to be precise in estimating the particular impact of a one-week restriction," he told Sky News on Sunday (local time).
"What you will see next week when we have the spending review, alongside that will be a set of forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility … which will show the enormous strain and stress our economy is experiencing, the job losses that you mention, the forecasts of what will happen, and it's right that we consider those in the round as we consider the best way to fight the virus."
VIRUS HAS PUT 'ENORMOUS STRAIN' ON UK ECONOMY
Mr Sunak on Sunday (local time) also warned that the British economy was under "enormous strain" because of the coronavirus, ahead of a government spending review next week But he ruled out a return to austerity measures.
Economic forecasts to be released alongside his Wednesday spending review would show "the enormous strain and stress that our economy is experiencing", Mr Sunak told Sky News.
The findings of independent forecasters the Office for Budget Responsibility - as well as the 750,000 job losses from coronavirus - would have to be taken "in the round as we consider the best way to fight the virus", he said.
Despite the profound impact of the coronavirus on Mr Sunak's spending review, he rejected a possible return to austerity measures on the economy.
Government spending would continue to increase on last year's day-to-day public spending, he said. "There's absolutely no way in which anyone can say that's austerity." However, he refused to rule out a widely expected public-sector pay freeze. It was fair to "think about what is happening with wages, with jobs, with hours, across the economy when we think about what the right thing to do in the public sector is", he said.
Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, recording more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.
In November, Mr Johnson's government imposed a four-week lockdown to stop the spread of the disease. That is due to be partially lifted on December 2, giving some relief to businesses.
Mr Sunak said the government was "looking at ways to see how families could spend time with each other over Christmas" but refused to pre-empt an announcement on the UK's winter virus strategy by Mr Johnson due on Monday.
Originally published as New tough UK lockdown: how it affects Aussie expats