The Government has decided that everything has become too confusing, that people don’t know whether they are coming or going, and that things need to be made simpler so that we can all understand what we’re supposed to be doing at any given time.
Rather than impose a national lockdown like we experienced in March, or continue with specific local lockdowns, the Government has decided to create a tier system consisting of medium, high, and very high tiers together with legislation and guidance to accompany them. The tier system came into force at 00:01 on 14 October.
This article will look at what the rules are for each of the tiers and the differences between them.
Medium (Tier 1)
This is the tier that applies to most of the country and that replicates the status quo prior to the introduction of the tier system. That means:
- The rule of 6 (e.g. not meeting in groups larger than 6 indoors or outdoors)
- Restrictions on opening hours for hospitality businesses (e.g. 10pm closure)
- Restrictions on operation for hospitality businesses (e.g. table service)
- Most other premises able to stay open
- Working from home where possible
The medium tier doesn’t introduce any significant changes day-to-day and the situation will be reviewed monthly. The same is not true of the high and very high tiers.
High (Tier 2)
This tier applies to large parts of the north of England. A full list of the areas included can be found in Schedule 2 of the relevant regulations and includes places such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and many others.
The key differences between the medium and the high tier are:
- A ban on mixing with other households or people outside your support bubble anywhere inside, including in private homes. Seeing other households whilst still keeping to groups of no more than 6 outdoors is still possible
- The ban above also includes hospitality businesses so premises will need to make sure they aren’t accommodating groups that aren’t from one household/a support bubble
Areas given tier 2 status will be reviewed every 14 days with the rules reviewed every 28 days.
Very High (Tier 3)
This tier applies to the worst affected areas and includes Liverpool and other surrounding areas. It is quite likely that other areas will be added to tier 3 in the coming days/weeks.
The key differences between the very high and the high/medium tiers are:
- pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
- advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area. This is part of wider measures to help manage the risk of transmission. You can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, to access youth services or because of caring responsibilities.
In addition to these restrictions the Government guidance also suggests they will consider:
- restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (takeaway and delivery permitted)
- closing indoor and outdoor entertainment and tourist attractions and venues
- closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
- closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth clubs and childcare activity and support groups)
- closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
- closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences
In short, the types of restrictions imposed under Tier 3 are not far short of those experienced in March.
If you are a premises that is affected by the new system and would like advise on what the system means for you please contact us for support.