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Health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested tier three areas will face the toughest band of coronavirus measures, meaning the closure of non-essential retail.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to chair a meeting of the Covid-O committee today, where further measures will be discussed.

This could see all of England subject to another lockdown, similar to that imposed in November for four weeks.

All pubs in England are closed under tier three or tier four measures presently, with the exception of a handful in the Isles of Scilly which are able to operate under tier one rules.

The next review of the tier designations is scheduled on 13 January however, with case numbers reportedly rocketing, it appears unlikely widespread pub openings would be permitted.

Confirmation needed

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The crucial thing is that we get some confirmation of what is in store, either way, and are given immediate assurances of support, so that businesses can plan for survival. 

“If a national lockdown is needed, we need as much time as can conceivably be given and another package of grants to keep businesses alive, alongside an extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday, which are already urgently needed with or without tighter restrictions.”

Daily coronavirus cases have exceeded 50,000 for the past five days, with concerns over new strains of the virus and the impact of an easing of socialising rules on Christmas Day.

Operators have called for an end to the uncertainty on social media.

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