THE second national lockdown will officially be ending on schedule on December 2, the Prime Minister has confirmed in an update statement to the House of Commons.

Setting out his 'Covid winter plan' against the 'wretched virus', Boris Johnson said there would be a return to a three-tier system but a revised 'tougher' version which would have uniform rules across England.

From December 2, people can leave home for any purpose but must adhere to the 'rule of six' when meeting others outside. 

Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

Outlining the tiers, Boris Johnson said: "In particular, in tier 1 people should work from home wherever possible.

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

"In tier 3, indoor entertainment, hotels and other accommodation will have to close, along with all forms of hospitality except for delivery and takeaways."

Mr Johnson said he was 'very sorry' for the 'hardship' that such restrictions would continue to cause business owners.

But offering a glimmer of hope for the events industry and sports, he added: "In tiers 1 and 2 spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls."

The 10pm curfew for pubs is also being revised with 'last orders at 10 with closing at 11'.

Which areas will fall into which tiers is expected to be announced on Thursday but Mr Johnson said most areas would fall into the toughest restrictions to 'maintain pressure on the virus'.

The PM also touched upon Christmas with plans for a time-limited Christmas dispensation with the devolved administrations.

He told the Commons: "I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year, but in a period of adversity time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.

"We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don't want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January.

"So to allow families to come together, while minimising the risk, we're working with the devolved administrations on a special time-limited Christmas dispensation, embracing the whole of the United Kingdom."

Describing it as a 'tragic year' where loved ones have been lost and people have faced financial ruin, Boris Johnson said families will need to make a 'careful judgement' about visiting elderly relatives over Christmas.

He told MPs: "This virus is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce, it doesn't know it's Christmas and families will need to make a careful judgement about the risk of visiting elderly relatives.

"We will be publishing guidance for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable on how to manage the risks in each tier as well as over Christmas."

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition, said a return to the three-tier was 'risky' because it previously 'hadn't worked'.

He added that regions tended to shift into higher tiers, those in tier 3 didn't see a way out and the system ended in a national lockdown.

The tiered coronavirus restrictions are expected to last until the end of March, despite the latest successful vaccine trials and rapid tests presenting a 'route out of the pandemic'.

"The hard truth is we're not there yet," said Mr Johnson.