England is currently in a full lockdown, with people limited on what they can do and who they can meet until December 2, when the lockdown is due to end.
But Sage experts have released modelling and data which suggests measures will need to be in place throughout December.
This means the measures could be in place over Christmas, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hopes that the festive period would be “as normal as possible”.
And they are warning the tier system may not be enough to bring infections down, with calls for stricter measures.
It remains to be seen what these are – but it would likely mean curbs on households mixing.
The report said: “If this is sustained until 2 December, the number of hospital admissions and deaths would be expected to fall until at least the second week of December.
“The longer-term outlook depends on both the nature of [restrictions] that are implemented in England after 2 December and policies over the festive period.
“If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before 5 November, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.”
Here’s four of the lockdown options on the table for Christmas.
Rule of Six lifted
There are reports that the Rule of Six could be lifted on Christmas Day to let families be together.
Boris Johnson is said to want to avoid being portrayed as “Scrooge”.
The Prime Minister has previously said he wants people to be able to see their loved ones over Christmas.
But it’s not yet clear if ministers will grant a temporary easing of restrictions over Christmas to allow families to be together.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the lockdown will end on 2 December, as originally planned.
He said during a cabinet meeting: “These measures – the crucial thing to understand is that they expire on 2 December.
“They come to an end. And we therefore as a Government and indeed as a country have a deadline and a target to develop solutions which previously did not exist.”
The government has said after the lockdown England will return to the Tier system, but its currently unknown what Tier will be put in place for each area.
England is in full lockdown from November 5 until at least December 2.
If the R rate is not brought down or Covid is not sufficiently reversed, it could be extended.
And it’s possible ministers simply won’t know if there’s enough progress by December 2, because deaths have a long lag time.
MPs would have to vote on any lockdown extension, but it would likely pass because Labour would probably support it.
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Same rules for the whole of UK
The four nations of the UK all have different rules, despite many people having family across borders.
The four administrations are now planning to look at a joint approach to the Christmas period.
They met in a COBRA meeting on Monday morning, in which they “agreed on the importance of coordinating public messaging, in particular on travel both within the UK and abroad.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman added: “Officials from across the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive will work together on a joint approach to the Christmas period.”