England could face a third wave of coronavirus if ministers do not “get the balance right” with restrictions, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says.
He defended the move to a tiered approach when England’s lockdown ends on Wednesday, saying the curbs are needed to “bear down” on the pandemic.
MPs will vote on the system on Tuesday, with Labour undecided on its stance.
The PM has told MPs the restrictions will expire on 3 February in a bid to stop a Commons rebellion.
In a letter to all MPs and peers, Boris Johnson said rules could be eased in December, MPs could vote again in January and the tier system could end in February.
But Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said her party’s support was “not unconditional” and they were seeking “clarity” about the tier system.
It comes as a further 12,155 people have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the UK total to 1,617,327.
There have been another 215 deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, the total under that measure now being 58,245.
England’s new system will see regions placed in one of three tiers: medium, high and very high.
In total, 99% of England will enter the highest two tiers, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly will be in the lowest tier.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said pubs, restaurants and bars will be subject to stricter restrictions – which are not yet finalised – in the run-up to Christmas. They will come into force from Friday, 4 December.
When asked whether there could be a third national lockdown, Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr the government was “doing everything we can to avoid that”.
But he said there was a “risk” of a third wave “if we don’t get the balance right”.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the tiers would be downgraded in areas where the virus was in retreat, saying: “We are starting with a more restrictive approach than previously with the localised approach.
“But that allows us to ease up when we are confident the virus is going down and stabilised – there’s a review every two weeks.”
Asked whether the government was looking at breaking counties into sma