Covid-19 tiers: Almost all of England facing tough virus rules

Publishedduration2 minutes ago

media captionHealth Secretary Matt Hancock sets out England’s new coronavirus tier system

Most of England will be in the two toughest levels of measures when the national lockdown ends on 2 December.

The new coronavirus tier restrictions will mean 55 million people remain banned from mixing with other households indoors.

Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester, as well as Kent, are in tier three.

A majority of places are in the second highest level – tier two – including London, and Liverpool city region.

The Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – where there have been no recorded cases in the past week – will be the only areas of England in the lowest level of curbs – tier one.

Meanwhile, a rush for details saw the government website repeatedly crash.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out the reasoning behind the tier decisions for each area in a written ministerial statement.

Mr Hancock told the Commons: “Hope is on the horizon but we still have further to go. So we must all dig deep.”

“We should see these restrictions not as a boundary to push but as a limit on what the public health advice says we can safely do in any area,” he added.

Around 23 million people across 21 local authority areas will be in the highest level – tier three – including Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Tees Valley Combined Authority and North East Combined Authority.

Lancashire, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Slough, Bristol, Kent and Medway will also be in tier three.

Differences between the new tiers include restrictions on where households can meet up:

  • tier one: the rule of six applies everywhere, indoors and out
  • tier two: the rule of six applies outdoors but there is no household mixing anywhere indoors
  • tier three: can only meet other households in outdoor public spaces like parks, where the rule of six applies

Gyms and close-contact beauty services like hairdressers will be able to open in all tiers. Guidance said people in all tiers who can work from home, should continue to do so.

Pubs in tier two can only open to serve “substantial meals”, while those in tier three can only operate as a takeaway or delivery service.

Hospitality bosses said nearly nine in 10 venues believed they “are not viable to operate” within tiers two and three.

Starting off high

Make no mistake, this is only a gradual step out of lockdown.

At the start of November more than half the country was in tier one, meaning households could mix indoors in people’s homes and in pubs and restaurants as long as they kept to the rule of six.

Now that is only possible in Cornwall,

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