WITH the current lockdown set to end next week, Witney MP Robert Courts said he is increasingly confident that the coronavirus pandemic will be beaten ‘before too long’.

His comments follow the positive results of the Oxford vaccine on Monday, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for the end of lockdown.

The second lockdown is set to end on December 2, with gyms and shops braced to reopen, and a restructured tier system introduced.

Pubs will have different rules, depending on what tier Oxfordshire is placed in.

See also: ‘Inadequate’ school joins new trust

The Government will announce tomorrow which areas are in which tiers, with this formally reviewed every 14 days.

Mr Courts embraced the impending culmination of the national lockdown.

He said: “It is welcome that, as planned, national restrictions will end on December 2 and be replaced by a strengthened tier system of local measures.

“I am pleased that, regardless of tier, non-essential retail, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen, and outdoor sport and collective worship will also resume.

Oxford Mail:

“I will be engaging closely with local leaders, the Chief Medical Officer and the Joint Biosecurity Centre as they analyse the latest data and make a decision on which tier we will be in next month.

“But I am increasingly confident, with mass testing and vaccines due to be rolled out over the winter and into the spring, that we can beat this pandemic before too long and return to normal life.”

The announcement that gyms can reopen was welcome news for GLL, West Oxfordshire District Council’s leisure management contractor which runs leisure centres and sports facilities in the district.

John Busby, GLL partnership manager for West Oxfordshire, said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement stating that gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres will be able to reopen across all tiers from December 2 is fantastic news and also a huge relief.

Oxford Mail:

“As a charitable social enterprise, both periods of lockdown have created significant financial pressures for our business, in addition to having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of the local community.

“It is heartening to see that the Government has finally recognised that leisure centres are safe environments, with very low rates of Covid-19 transmission, as well as playing a crucial role in maintaining the wellbeing of the nation.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming back our customers across West Oxfordshire on December 2 and will continue to implement rigorous Covid-secure operating protocols and social distancing as we did prior to the second lockdown.

“We’re currently seeking clarification from the Government on possible restrictions to group exercise classes for areas that fall into the new tiers two and three. Beyond that it should be business as ‘new normal’ once again.”

Read also: ‘Spitfire girl’ celebrates 100th birthday

For pubs, there is a nervous wait to find out what tier Oxfordshire will be in, as that will dictate what they can offer.

If the county is in tier one, pubs will be open to stay open until 11pm, while under tier three restrictions, pubs must remain closed apart from takeaway services.

In tier two, pubs can open only if they serve substantial meals.

See more: Historic building sale will be discussed soon

Joy Gosling, landlady at The Three Pigeons in Witney, said: “I think all pubs are feeling a bit dead at the minute, just as we were getting back on our feet, we closed again for the second lockdown.

“We’re now waiting to see what tier we’ll be in and although we’re not alone in this, it’s been very hard.

“Although we do a bit of food, it’s not been viable for us to do takeaways so if you’re a wet pub, I don’t know how they’ve been coping.”