Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for a new strengthened three-tier system expected to come into effect after England emerges from its current lockdown on 2 December.
Addressing the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, Mr Johnson said there would be a return to a “tougher” tier system until the spring.
“This will be, still, a hard winter,” Mr Johnson said. “Christmas cannot be more than a long road to spring, but we have turned a corner and the escape route is in sight.”
“So we're not going to replace national measures with a free for all, the status quo anti-Covid, we're going to go back instead to a regional tiered approach - applying the toughest measures where Covid is most prevalent,” he said.
“And while the previous local tiers did cut the 'R' number, they were not quite enough to reduce it below one,” Mr Johnson said. "So the scientific advice, I'm afraid, is that as we come out our tiers need to be made tougher."
Addressing MPs, the prime minister said the “scientific calvary is in sight,” before adding: "We know in our hearts that next year we will succeed. "By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we have endured in 2020 and make the whole concept of a Covid lockdown redundant.''
The UK’s most promising immunisation, which was developed in partnership with drug firm AstraZeneca, was found overall to have an efficacy of 70.4 per cent – stopping fewer people from developing Covid symptoms than those made by Pfizer and Moderna which showed around 95 per cent protection.
However, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to be up to 90 per cent effective when supplied in two doses, with a half-dose provided followed by a later full dose.
The UK has placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate much of the population – with the rollout expected to begin in the coming weeks if the jab is approved.