COVID-19: 99% of England under tougher tier restrictions as businesses reopen

·2-min read

Thousands of non-essential shops, gyms, bars and restaurants are reopening as England's second lockdown ends and the new tiered system comes into force.

Some 99% of the population will be under the two toughest tiers of restrictions, which are stricter than they were before lockdown.

About 32 million people, or just over half of England, will fall into Tier 2.

A further 23.3 million people will face the harshest Tier 3 measures, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can stay in Tier 1.

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For a comprehensive list of the rules under each tier, you can read more here.

On Tuesday, MPs voted to bring the new measures into force, although Boris Johnson suffered his largest Tory rebellion with more than 50 of his own MPs voting against the government.

Ahead of the reopening of business this morning, retailers have been preparing to welcome customers back to their stores and will be hoping for a pre-Christmas boost.

Shoppers wanting to head to John Lewis can pre-book a slot to visit their local shop, while clothes store Primark will reopen its 153 stores with longer shopping hours.

Swedish homeware chain Ikea has also said it will open its 19 stores across England.

Gyms and indoor swimming pools are opening across the country - a welcome change for those bored of their home work-out routines - and hairdressers can see clients again.

In Tier 1 and 2 areas, pubs and restaurants will be reopening as well.

However, people under Tier 2 restrictions will only be allowed to sit inside with members of their own household or support bubble and they can only buy alcohol with a "substantial meal".

In London's West End - currently in Tier 2 - al fresco dining will be extended for another six months to allow people to sit outside with other households.

Hospitality venues in Tier 3 areas will have to remain closed unless they can provide takeaway or delivery services.

Although the tiered restrictions offer more freedoms after a four-week lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned it is too soon to "take our foot off the pedal".

"The next few weeks and months are the busiest time of year for our NHS, so it's vital we all continue to follow new local restrictions, wash our hands, wear a face covering and observe social distancing," he said.