Covid rules for tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4 - what are the restrictions for December 2020?

London to enter tier 4 on Sunday 20 December

Sarah Young,Olivia Petter
Tuesday 22 December 2020 11:48
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Boris Johnson has announced that London and other areas of south east England will enter into tier 4 on Sunday to combat the rising number of coronavirus infections.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, the prime minister explained that a new variant of Covid-19 has led to a faster transmission rate, and while there is no evidence to suggest that it is more lethal or causes more severe illness, it spreads much quicker.

Hence why Mr Johnson has introduced a new, stricter tier, which will see non-essential retail, indoor gyms, and indoor entertainment venues close.

The announcement comes after Matt Hancock revealed which areas of England would move tier allocations this weekend due to the local infection rates of Covid-19.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, the health secretary revealed that Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hastings and Portsmouth are among the areas that would enter into tier 3. However, in light of latest announcement, these areas will now enter tier 4 from Sunday.

Read more: Is Christmas cancelled now?

Additionally, some areas, including Bristol and North Somerset, were downgraded from tier 3 into tier 2.

England moved back into a regional three-tiered system following the second nationwide lockdown on 2 December, with each region’s tier being reviewed every two weeks. 

The next review will take place on Wednesday 30 December.

Read more: Which tier am I in? How to check the Covid alert level in your area

In order to find out which alert level you are in, you can use the postcode search available on the government website and the NHS Covid 19 app will also show which local alert level applies in which area.

So, what are the new rules each tier? Here is everything you need to know.

Tier 1

Socialising

In Tier 1, which is otherwise known as “medium” alert level, you must not socialise in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors. This is referred to as the “rule of six”.

You are allowed to meet people from other households and you may visit pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues together, so long as you stay within a group of six or less.

When meeting people from other households you should still follow social distancing rules and try to limit how many different people in total you see socially over any short period of time.

The government also advises that when meeting people you do not live with, you should try and do so outdoors where possible, or to make sure that any indoor venue has good ventilation (for example by opening windows so that fresh air can enter).

Read more: London tier 3 rules: Latest restrictions as capital to move to 'high alert level'

Hospitality

Businesses and venues in the hospitality sector can remain open in tier 1 areas. However, pubs and restaurants must stop taking orders at 10pm and close completely at 11pm.

The early closure also applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parts and bingo halls.

Outlets selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.

Restaurants and pubs must offer table service only and enforce the rule of six indoors and outdoors. Customers are also required to wear face masks when not seated at their table.

Weddings and funerals

Wedding ceremonies and receptions can take place in tier 1, however there must be no more than 15 guests in attendance.

Funerals can also take place with a limit of 30 people.

These events must comply with social distancing rules and venues should also follow Covid-secure measures.

Places of worship can remain open, but you must not attend or socialise in groups of more than six people while there, unless a legal exemption applies.

Read more: Can you travel into and out of a tier 3 area? New lockdown rules explained

Travel

People in tier 1 areas are advised to walk or cycle if you need to travel anywhere, but where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you are using public transport, be sure to wear a face covering.

If you live in a tier 1 area and travel to an area in a higher tier you should follow the rules for that area while you are there.

Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can also travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey

Working from home

Anyone who can work from home in tier 1 is being advised to do so.

However, employees that work in essential services, such as education, can continue to go into work where necessary.

Anyone else who cannot work from home is also permitted to go to their place of work.

Tier 2

Socialising

In Tier 2, the “high” alert level, you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.

You must also not socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or a public space.

Hospitality

Businesses in tier 2 areas can continue to operate in a Covid-secure manner.

However, pubs and bars must close unless they also operate as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals, must provide table service only, stop taking orders at 10pm and close at 11pm.

Any establishments selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.

Just like tier 1, the early closure rule also applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parts and bingo halls.

Weddings and funerals

In tier 2, wedding ceremonies and receptions can go ahead but there must be no more than 15 guests.

Similarly, funerals can still take place but with no more than 30 people in attendance.

Places of worship will remain open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while there.

Read more: Can you still travel abroad in tier 3? Holiday lockdown rules explained

Travel

People in tier 2 areas can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible.

If you are using public transport, be sure to wear a face covering.

Working from home

Just like tier 1, people in tier 2 are encouraged to work remotely if possible but, anyone who cannot do so is permitted to travel to their place of work if necessary.

Tier 3

Socialising

In tier 3, also known as the “very high” alert level, you must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden and most outdoor venues.

You are also not allowed to socialise in a group of more than six in some outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility.

Hospitality

Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close in tier 3 areas, but they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must also close. There are a number of exemptions however, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training.

Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close, including play centres, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, amusement arcades, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close, including those within zoos and wildlife reserves, aquariums, model villages, museums, theme parks and heritage sites.

Weddings and funerals

Weddings and funerals can still go ahead in tier 3 areas but, just like in tier 1 and 2, there are restrictions on the number of attendees.

A limit of 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies but wedding receptions are not allowed.

Meanwhile, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events.

Travel

If you live in a tier 3 area, you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

You should also avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Working from home

People in tier 3 should work from home if possible.

However, if you are unable to work remotely, or you are a public-sector employee working in essential services, you can continue to go into work where necessary.

Tier 4

Socialising

In tier 4, you must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden and most outdoor venues.

You are, however, allowed to socialise with one person from another household in some outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility.

Hospitality

The rules are the same as in tier 3, with hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants having to close. 

But they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

The same rules apply to hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses. Similarly, indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close.

Travel

Those in tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as for work purposes.

Additionally, those in tier 4 areas are being told not to travel to other regions in England outside of their area.

People in tiers 1,2 and 3 are also being advised not to travel to tier 4 areas.

Working from home

People in tier 4 should work from home if possible.

However, if you are unable to work remotely, or you are a public-sector employee working in essential services, you can continue to go into work where necessary.

You can read more about the four alert levels on the government website here.

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