BOOKIES and pubs that don't serve food could stay shut under tough new Tier 3 rules.
Boris Johnson is set to call time on the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs and instead plans to extend opening hours until 11pm.
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Last orders will be at 10pm under his proposed winter Covid plan – 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 bookies and pubs that do not serve food might remain closed in tier 3 areas with the highest infection rates.
When the tier system was first introduced last month, only pubs that provided food – such as lunch or evening meals – could stay open.
This meant so-called 'wet pubs' were forced to shut their doors to the public.
Thousands of betting shops were also closed under Tier 3 restrictions as they were not seen as essential.
But in a boost for the struggling high street, all shops will remain open when lockdown ends – even if they're in the strictest tiers.
The measures are set to be part of the PM’s new three-tier approach to keep the virus under control.
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."
England will be told to expect a strengthened set of regional restrictions when the country leaves lockdown on December 2 as No 10 fears the virus “could quickly run out of control again”.
Britswill move back to a three-tier system with regional restrictions — before rules are relaxed over Christmas.
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 told The Sun on Sunday: “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.
Senior ministers were in talks yesterday to work through the plans.
The PM will convene his Cabinet later today before he formally announces his strategy in Parliament tomorrow.
But it will face opposition from some Tories.
Discussions are still ongoing with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over a joint approach.
But families are being warned not to expect a normal festive period in which several families can meet up.
In the meantime, 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.
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.”
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.”
Ministers believe mass testing and the introduction of vaccines next month, once approved by regulators, can help to contain Covid.
But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham last night urged the Government not to let “everything loose” during the festive build-up.
And ex-chief government scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport told Times Radio there was “something iconic” about Christmas but warned it “doesn’t make sense to have big parties”.
He added: “It’s absolutely clear that if you were to stop everything and take the brakes off completely, infection would start growing again.”
Public Health England has stated that every day of freedom over Christmas could mean five extra days of tougher measures.
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.”
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