Laws setting out coronavirus restrictions for England after lockdown ends could be in force until February, according to legal documents.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 were published on Monday and come into effect on Wednesday.
Under the latest legislation, only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls.
Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West will be in the most restrictive Tier 3. This means household mixing will be banned except in limited circumstances such as in parks, bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area.
The majority of England will face Tier 2 restrictions, meaning a ban on households mixing indoors, and pubs and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Ministers must review whether areas need to remain under Tier 2 or 3 restrictions at least once every 14 days, with the first having to take place by December 16.
The need for the tier system must be reviewed every 28 days, with the first to be carried out by December 30.
The regulations could be in force until the end of February 2 next year when the law expires if the Government does not scrap or amend them in the meantime, the legal documents state.
The latest laws also amend the curfew for pubs and restaurants which are allowed to stay open – meaning last orders must take place at 10pm with venues closing by 11pm.
But takeaway services can continue through the night.
The usual exemptions to the rules for those who need to work, carers and those needing childcare and other circumstances still apply.
Laws on Christmas gatherings are set out in the documents and, if approved, mean it would be illegal for more than three households to mix between December 23 and 27.
The document says: “Where a member of a household is or has been in a linked Christmas household in relation to members of two other households, the person cannot be linked with the members of any other household under this regulation.”
But there are exceptions for children whose parents live separately.
Students will be allowed to travel home for Christmas from Thursday and to return to schools and universities after the festive break before February 8.
Anyone who breaks the rules faces fines of up to £6,400 or could be taken to court, while corporate bodies and their bosses could face prosecution for organising illegal gatherings and have to pay up to £10,000.
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