MPs have returned to Parliament for a vote on the
new lockdown law which applies to England as of Wednesday.
They were due to be on their Christmas recess until 11 January, but the government recalled them to debate the change in regulations.
The lockdown has already come into force, but some Tory backbenchers are expected to criticise the decision.
However, with Labour saying it will support the measures, the law enforcing them is likely to be approved.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is updating the Commons now, telling MPs – many of whom are participating remotely – that says the vaccine programme provides a “means of escape” from the current lockdown, with 1.3 million people in UK already vaccinated.
The regulations allow the lockdown to be in place until the end of March.
The PM announced the lockdown for England on Monday, which means everyone must stay at home except for permitted reasons – such as food shopping or getting medicines.
All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants are open only for delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Indoor and outdoor sports facilities including sports courts, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, and riding arenas must also close.
And all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges moved to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
A number of Conservative MPs have criticised previous lockdown measures and some are expected to speak out during the debate – though not enough to reject the legislation.
There is understood to be concern from some Tories over the wording of the law, and especially that it allows the lockdown to be in place until the end of March.
One senior backbench Tory MP told the BBC it was “the last chance saloon for the government’s strategy” as the lockdown was going to be “crushing” for people.
They added: “Either we sort this out with vaccines or we find another way out.”
On Tuesday, the number of new daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK continued to grow, topping 60,000 for the first time since the pandemic started, with a further 830 deaths recorded.
The Commons day is expected to start at 11:30 GMT with a statement from Mr Johnson on the lockdown.
After a further statement from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on changes to schooling during the period, MPs will be able to debate the new law until 19:00 at the latest – with a vote expected to follow.
‘Frustration behind the scenes’
When the government introduced its tougher tier system in December, 55 of Tories voted down the measure – marking the biggest rebellion of Mr Johnson’s premiership – and in November, 34 of his own MPs voted against the four-week lockdown.
The expectation is there will be fewer rebels than in either of those votes, but some have hinted they could abstain rather than support the new law.
Another Tory MP told the BBC said there was a “huge amount of frustration behind the scenes”.
But with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying his party will back the legislation in Wednesday night’s vote and the majority of the Conservative Party backing their government, the rebels may have little impact and the lockdown will continue as planned.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a lockdown for Scotland on Monday, while Wales and Northern Ireland have been in lockdown since December.