Three-tier lockdown: What are the new rules for pubs and bars in England?

The prime minister has unveiled a new three tier system for England, placing different parts of the country under varying levels of alert

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 15 October 2020 10:06

On Monday 12 October, Boris Johnson announced a new series of coronavirus restrictions, which have now come into force in different parts of England.

This involves implementing a new three-tier alert system, which indicates the level of risk in certain parts of the country in relation to the transmission of Covid-19.

If regions have been placed in the top tier of the new alert system, this means that certain businesses, including some in the hospitality sector, have had to close their doors.

On Sunday, the prime minister held a telephone conference with members of the Cabinet to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, during which they discussed negotiations that were being held with local leaders in the north of England concerning coronavirus restrictions.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said that any new restrictions enforced in the area “must come with the financial support to protect jobs and businesses”.

Here is everything you need to know about how businesses in hospitality are being affected by the new rules.

What is the government’s new three-tier system?

As explained by the prime minister during Monday’s announcement, the government’s new three-tier system has placed certain parts of the country under different levels of alert.

Tier one, or “medium” alert, refers to the restrictions that are already established across England, including a 10pm curfew on businesses that serve food or drink and a maximum of six people being allowed at the majority of gatherings, with exclusions for events such as weddings, funerals and outdoor team sports events.

Tier two, or “high” alert, includes all of the above, plus prohibiting members of the public from mixing indoors with other households or support bubbles.

Meanwhile tier three, or “very high” alert, involves certain businesses including pubs, bars, gyms and betting shops closing their doors.

The “very high” alert has been applied to areas where transmission rates are rising “most rapidly”, the prime minister said.

Members of the public are also not allowed to mix with other households or bubbles indoors and have been advised not to travel in or out of the areas.

The new three-tier system was published on Monday, before being debated and voted on in Parliament on Tuesday. The alert system is then came into effect on Wednesday.

How is the hospitality sector being affected?

If a region is placed in the third, highest tier, this means that venues such as pubs and bars must stay closed.

The businesses can only remain open if they are operating as restaurants.

On Monday 12 October, it was reported that restaurants were lobbying to remain open in areas placed under “very high” alert, amid reports the prime minister was going to order restaurants to close.

Ben Houchen, mayor of Tees Valley in the North East of England, said he believes the most stringent restrictions will remain in place for around four weeks at a time.

Commenting on the extent to which Covid-19 is spread in businesses such as pubs and restaurants, Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told the BBC that “most of the outbreaks are happening within and between households and then after that, it’s in the retail and hospitality sector”.

“Alcohol and people’s behaviour are well known to be factors that result in relaxation of one’s adherence to regulations, let’s put it politely,” Semple said. “And so I can understand why this move is happening.”

However, Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that data gathered by the city’s public health officials “seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid”.

What alert level does your local area fall under?

The government has launched a postcode checker on its website and on the NHS Covid app, which provides members of the public with guidance for their local areas.

In regions categorised as being under “very high” alert, local leaders will help decide whether venues such as gyms or casinos should close.

All restrictions will apply for four weeks, after which they will be reviewed.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments