Michael Gove says it is his “fervent hope” that England’s new lockdown will end on 2 December – but that ministers will be “guided by the facts”.
“We do need to get the R rate below 1,” the Cabinet Office minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
The strict measures are due to come into force from Thursday.
Pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship will close, but schools, colleges and universities can stay open.
The prime minister is expected to deliver a statement in the Commons on Monday before a vote on the latest restrictions on Wednesday. Labour has said it will back the lockdown.
Boris Johnson said he expects the lockdown to last until 2 December, after which England’s regional tiered system will be reintroduced.
But Mr Gove told the BBC decisions would “obviously be guided by the facts”.
He said ministers believe “on the basis of the evidence that we have that we will be able to [lift restrictions]” by 2 December.
But he stressed that “we do need to get the R rate [the number of people that one infected person will infect] below 1”.
Earlier, he told Sky News the lockdown could be extended beyond the December deadline.
What are the new restrictions?
- People will be told to stay at home except for specific reasons
- These include work which cannot be done from home, childcare or education, exercise outdoors, medical reasons, essential shopping, providing care for vulnerable people or for volunteering, and visiting members of your support bubble
- Meeting indoors or in private gardens will not be allowed, but individuals can meet one other person from another household outside in a public place
- Non-essential retail will close, but can remain open for click-and-collect delivery
- Pubs, bars, restaurants will have to close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery, excluding takeaway of alcohol
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also close, along with entertainment venues and personal care facilities such as beauty salons
- Places of worship will close, unless they are being used for funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, formal childcare, or essential services such as blood donation or food banks
- Construction sites and manufacturing workplaces can remain open
- Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be able to take place except in exceptional circumstances, and funerals will be limited to a maximum of 30 people
- Children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated
- Clinically vulnerable people will be asked to be “especially careful” but people will not be asked to resume shielding
- Overnight stays, staying in a second home, and holidays will not be allowed – including in the UK and abroad – although there are exceptions, such as work trips
- People will be told to avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC there would “be no effective exit on 2 December unless the government uses this time to fix test, trace and isolate”.
He has called for the lockdown to stay in place until the R rate is below 1.
Also on the