Boris Johnson will give a Downing Street press conference at 5pm today.

The Prime Minister will speak to the nation after a frenetic day with announcements on Brexit, new tiers, school reopenings and a vaccine.

He is likely to restate major statements in the House of Commons on Brexit at 2.30pm, tiers at 3pm and schools at 4pm.

First, MPs are expected to back his Brexit deal in a vote that has been rushed through in just four and a half hours with no amendment.

Then, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to plunge millions more people into Tier 4 in England, though he will stop short of a national lockdown or new ‘tier 5’.

Then, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to announce England’s schools will return in full later than planned in January, after more than 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day.

Tier 4 shown in black in map
Millions more people will be plunged into Tier 4 later this afternoon

It is thought students will only return in full to secondary schools on January 18, a week later than the current plan and two weeks after the start of term.

However, it’s understood there will be no change to plans to bring back nurseries.

Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said: “With more than a million young children accessing early education, it is vital that the government takes the time to consider the best, safest and most appropriate route forward for the early years, rather than simply tacking the sector onto whatever decision is made for schools.”

It comes after Matt Hancock claimed Britain can “get out of” the coronavirus pandemic “by Spring” following a crucial vaccine breakthrough.

The Tory Health Secretary made the bold pledge after regulators approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for use in the UK.

The government has ordered 100million doses of the jab, enough for 50million people, on top of enough of the separate Pfizer jab for 20million people.

That means there will be enough for every adult in the UK – though officials have refused to confirm any timescale.

Mr Hancock said rollout of the Oxford jab would begin on Monday 4 January and run at the speed it can be manufactured, which AstraZeneca suggest could eventually hit 2million per week.

He said 2021 would “blossom” and told Sky News: “The NHS stands ready to deploy at the sort of pace that is needed to be able to help us to get out of this pandemic by the Spring.

“The NHS will deliver the vaccine into people’s arms as fast as it can be produced.”

AstraZeneca’s chief executive told the BBC the firm could get to producing 1million doses and beyond per week “very rapidly”. “We can go to 2million,” he added.

The Mirror understands the most recent plan for schools was to delay the return of all secondary pupils again, from January 11 to January 18.

Under plans announced earlier in December, Year 11, 13, and vulnerable and key workers’ kids were to return in person from January 4.

Other secondary pupils would have then received remote learning while being tested for coronavirus, and then return on January 11.

It’s thought ministers were looking at delaying the return of that second cohort of pupils by a week, to January 18, to give more time for testing.

Meanwhile, it’s thought only 20% of university students will be back by that date so a review will take place on the 18th.



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