Rishi Sunak has said the new lockdown restrictions in England will expire on 2 December “as a matter of law”.
The chancellor stressed these coronavirus rules are time limited – and told the BBC the government’s “expectation and firm hope is that the measures put in place will be sufficient to do the job we need”.
At the conclusion of the four-week period, Mr Sunak added that it is hoped England will be able to return to a tiered COVID-19 system.
The new lockdown is scheduled to start on Thursday, and the prime minister is set to face MPs later today ahead of a vote on the measures on Wednesday.
It is expected to be voted through on the back of Labour support, although many Conservative MPs are unhappy with the decision.
Boris Johnson will signal his determination for the lockdown to end after four weeks when he faces the Commons.
The PM is expected to say: “At the end of four weeks, on Wednesday 2 December, we will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.”
He will also say there is “no alternative” to a second shutdown and defend his decision to opt for the regional tier system in October.
“I believe it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level, with strong local action and strong local leadership,” Mr Johnson will tell MPs.
Questions over whether the lockdown will be extended beyond four weeks were raised after cabinet minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday that could happen “if necessary”.
England lockdown ‘may be longer than a month’
Mr Gove said the government would review the data during November, adding he hoped the infection rate would be “significantly reduced” by the start of next month.
But he said it would be “foolish” to predict what would happen with the pandemic over the next four weeks, and admitted the lockdown may have to be extended.
Asked if the national restrictions could be extended, he replied: “Yes.”
Alongside the introduction of a national lockdown, the furlough scheme has been extended to cover people unable to work during the lockdown due to restrictions.
PM ‘too slow’ on second lockdown
On Monday, Mr Sunak said support of 40% from the government for self-employed workers “will go up” but that those grants cover a much longer period than the furlough scheme.
In Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford has denied the current “firebreak” will continue beyond two weeks.
He told Sky News’ Kay Burley at Breakfast: “We won’t be extending it, we’ll be coming out of the firebreak on 9 November.”
Scotland enters into a new five-tier system today, with Nicola Sturgeon warning she would not hesitate to increase the level of protection either locally or nationally as required.