Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen from December 3, when the England-wide lockdown is eased.

Boris Johnson confirmed the reintroduction of a tiered system of restrictions to the House of Commons this afternoon when he announced his Covid-19 Winter Plan, with areas to find out their tiers on Thursday.

The prime minister said he expected some areas to be put into stricter tiers than they were in before the England-wide lockdown, which was introduced for four weeks from November 5.

Shops were among the business he listed as being allowed to reopen as the country moves from a national lockdown to the tiered system, alongside gyms and pubs – which will have their closing times extended.

Johnson said the tiers would “need to be made tougher”. Under previous restrictions, non-essential retail including travel agencies were permitted to open, but agents argued that this did not factor in the industry’s unique position within retail and could leave them unable to access grants.

“For the first time since this wretched virus took hold we can see a route out of the pandemic,” said Johnson, but he warned “we are not there yet” as he announced the Winter Plan.

Johnson said that the progress made on vaccines in recent weeks will “make lockdowns redundant” in the future but warned the country must “get throguh winter” first.

He apologised to business owners for the “unbelievable hardship” they had suffered so far during Covid.

Labour leader Kier Starmer called for a quick publication of the tiers each area falls into, and called on Johnson to clarify how long areas are expected to be in their new tiers.

Starmer said rapid testing was only “part of the story” and said the government’s current test and isolate regime was “nowhere near” what it should be.