Everything you need to know about the new Covid tier system

23 November 2020, 20:19

Boris Johnson warned we can't have a normal Christmas this year
Boris Johnson warned we can't have a normal Christmas this year. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Boris Johnson has set out plans for a new tiered system of conronavirus measures for England when the lockdown lifts next week.

The new rules will be introduced at regional level, with the Prime Minister warning "many more" areas face the toughest tiers. It means some areas could be facing a ban on household mixing until March.

Pubs, bars and restaurants face continued closures in the new system, but all shops, gyms and places of worship can reopen fully again.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press briefing it is "the season to be jolly careful", warning: “We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill but they are not here yet.

“Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.”

Which restrictions will be lifted?

From Wednesday December 2, shops, gyms and personal care services across England will be able to reopen.

Weddings and outdoor sports will be able to resume and the restriction limiting people to meeting one person from another household in outdoor spaces will end with a return to the rule of six.

Spectator sport will also return in Tiers 1 and 2 - with restrictions on capacity and with a requirement to follow social distancing.

Venues will remain closed to spectators in areas under Tier 3.

What about pubs and restaurants?

Hospitality venues will be able to reopen to guests in Tier 1 and 2, although they will be limited to table service, and those in Tier 2 will only able to serve alcohol with “substantial” meals.

The 10pm curfew will be eased, with last orders at 10pm and an hour's drinking-up time.

In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will be restricted to deliveries and takeaways only. Indoor entertainment venues will also remain shut.

Will people be able to travel?

Yes. Holidays will be permitted. In Tier 1 the stay home message is being lifted although people will still be encouraged to minimise their movements and to work from home where possible.

When will people learn which tier they are in?

An announcement will be made on Thursday when officials have had a chance to study the latest data.

How will decisions be made?

Officials will look at coronavirus cases across all age groups, and specifically among the over-60s who are considered most at risk.

They will also consider whether infection rates are rising or falling and the prevalence of the disease per 100,000 of population.

How long will the restrictions last?

Tiering decisions will be reviewed every 14 days. Overall restrictions will run to the end of March when the regulations are due to expire.

How will England compare with the devolved administrations?

Scotland has a four-tier system, with 11 local authority areas in central and western Scotland under the toughest Tier 4 restrictions.

That effectively means a lockdown with non-essential shops, businesses, pubs, restaurants and gyms all required to close.

In Wales, which recently came out of a two-week “firebreak” lockdown, ministers have said they are considering bringing back some of the restrictions now operating in Scotland as well as those planned for England.

In Northern Ireland, non-essential shops and businesses will have to close again in another two-week lockdown.