New three-tier covid restrictions – What do the levels mean?

three-tier covid restrictions

The new COVID-19 Winter plan outlined by the PM will mean tougher measures than before the lockdown and said we need one ‘final push’ before the expected arrival of vaccines and mass testing.

The updated tier system will be broadly similar to what it was before the lockdown but as Johnson said, “indeed the measures will be tougher than in October. No one wants to throw away the gains of lockdown. We must keep transmission down.”

On Thursday 26th November the government will announce which areas are in which tier. You will be able to use the postcode checker to find out the restrictions in your area or an area you plan to visit. The NHS COVID-19 app will be updated on 2nd December.

Christmas get together backed by all four nations

Work to finalise the arrangements for a UK-wide approach to restrictions this Christmas is ongoing and the UK’s four nations have backed plans to allow some household mixing “for a small number of days” over Christmas. An announcement is expected later this week.

On Christmas he said, “By keeping the virus under control this winter, the Government hopes to enable friends and family to gather at Christmas. This will not, however, be a normal Christmas. Restrictions will remain, and there will continue to be a risk of transmission. But this is no longer an epidemic without end and I know that we have the resolve to see us through.”

What will the updated three-tier covid restrictions look like?

Every area in England will once again fall into one of three Covid alert levels. “I’m sorry to say that we expect more regions will fall, at least temporarily, into higher levels than before,” the PM told the Commons. “But, by using these tougher tiers and by using rapid-turnaround tests on an ever greater scale to drive the R number below one and keep it there, it should be possible for areas to move down the tiering scale.”

The High Peak and Derbyshire were previously in Tier 2 or the ‘High’ Covid Alert Level before the current lockdown.

In all tiers, the following businesses and venues can remain open:

  • essential and non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales
  • certain leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres, outdoor playgrounds – subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier. Indoor group activities and classes should not take place at tier 3
  • Hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, massage parlours and tanning salons
  • Public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls. They should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or most other social activities in tier 3
  • Allotments, recycling and waste centres, public toilets, car parks
  • Essential public services such as the NHS and medical services, courts, and jobcentre plus sites
  • Places of worship – communal worship can now resume, subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier

The new updated tier system:

Tier 1 – Medium alert

  • The rule of 6: maximum of six people can meet indoors and outdoors, other than single households or support bubbles
  • Bars and pubs: Venues must be table service only and they must stop taking orders at 10pm and must close by 11pm
  • Accommodation open – overnight stays with household, support bubble or up to six people
  • Nightclubs must remain closed
  • Early closure (11pm) applies to cinemas, theatres, concert halls
  • Minimising travel is encouraged and work from home where possible
  • Retail: essential and non-essential retail can open
  • Walk or cycle where possible and avoid travel into Tier 3 areas – except where necessary for example for work, medical reasons, education or caring

Tier 2 – High alert

  • No household mixing any any indoor setting (in homes or a public place) – except for anyone in your support bubble
  • Rule of 6 outdoors: you can not socialise with more than 6 people outside, including gardens and public spaces
  • Bars and pubs: pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants and serving food. Those venues who do open must offer table service only, stop taking orders at 10pm and must close by 11pm and venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
  • Accommodation open – overnight stays with household and support bubbles only.
  • Nightclubs must remain closed
  • Early closure (11pm) applies to cinemas, theatres, concert halls
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies
  • Reduce the number of journeys made where possible and avoid travel into Tier 3 areas – except where necessary for example for work, medical reasons, education or caring

Tier 3 – Very High alert

  • 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 or at most outdoor venues
  • Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés will be closed – except for takeaway/delivery
  • Nightclubs must remain closed
  • Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close
  • Avoid travelling to all 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
  • Indoor attractions and entertainment venues must close including:
    • Indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play
    • Museums and galleries
    • Cinemas, theatres and concert halls
    • Zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves
    • Aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions
    • Visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes
    • Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close

You can find the latest updated information on the three-tier system here:

As soon as more information is published later this week, we’ll update this page.

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