England will face tiered coronavirus restrictions until the end of March, despite the latest successful vaccine trials and rapid tests presenting a "route out of the pandemic".

As the lockdown ends on 2 December, more parts of England are expected to be placed into higher tiers than they were before the national restrictions were imposed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said the new tiers would be tougher than their predecessors, after government scientific advisers said the previous regime did not do enough to tackle the virus.

The announcement of the new measures came as the Oxford-AstraZeneca team announced its vaccine had proved 70% effective.

Appearing via video link from self-isolation in Downing Street, Mr Johnson told MPs the three-tiered approach had been beefed up.

In Tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.

In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services, while indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will close.

The 10pm curfew will be relaxed, with last orders now closed at that time and premises ordered to shut at 11pm.

Setting out other measures that will be eased as the lockdown lifts, Mr Johnson said: "From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

"But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge."

Details of which areas will be in which tiers will be set out on Thursday, Mr Johnson said.

"I'm sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before," he warned.

Mr Johnson said that unlike previous arrangements, tiers will now be "a uniform set of rules".

He said: "We won't have negotiations on additional measures with each region ... we've learnt from experience that there are some things we can do differently."

In tiers one and two, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing, Mr Johnson said.

"We'll also strengthen the enforcement ability of local authorities, including specially trained officers and new powers to close down premises that post a risk to public health."


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Mr Johnson also said rapid testing will be used by the end of the year to allow every care home resident to have two visitors who can be tested twice a week.

He told MPs: "Care workers looking after people in their own homes will be offered weekly tests from today. And from next month, weekly tests will also be available to staff in prisons, food manufacturing and those delivering and administering Covid vaccines."

Mr Johnson said testing will enable students to "go home safely for Christmas" and return back to university. 

This comes after England's first city-wide testing was held in Liverpool this month, which the government hailed as a success leading to a "substantial fall" in cases.

The city is now set to trial a new system of testing where contacts of those who have tested positive can take a test every day for a week and only have to isolate if they test positive, instead of immediately quarantining.

If successful, this system could be used across England in care homes and by the whole population from January, Downing Street said.

Meanwhile, a further 178 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 38,512, NHS England said earlier.

Patients were aged between 34 and 101.

All except seven, aged between 55 and 91, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between 22 September 22 November 22, with the majority on or after 19 November .