England’s Covid tiers: Who is affected by the latest changes?

The latest changes to England’s three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions have seen more areas placed under its toughest measures.

Here is a rundown of where the new rules apply and how they affect local residents:

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

– Which areas have been moved into Tier 3 restrictions?

Greater London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire moved into Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions, on Wednesday.

This includes Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford, along with Thurrock and Southend-On-Sea borough councils

Also seeing a tightening of restrictions are Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and the Three Rivers local authority.

– What are you allowed to do under Tier 3?

In Tier 3 “very high alert” areas, the hospitality sector, such as bars , pubs, cafes, and restaurants must close except for takeaways, and groups of six can only meet in outdoor public spaces.

You are not allowed to meet socially indoors with anybody you do not live with
or have a support bubble with.

Retail and personal care – such as hairdressers and beauty salons – can open in all tiers.

Under Tier 3, indoor entertainment venues – such as bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, theatres and concert halls – have to close.

– How are the rules different in other tiers?

Christmas 2020
Christmas shoppers walk past a Coronavirus Tier 3 Very High Alert sign (Danny Lawson/PA)

In Tier 2 “high alert” areas, people from different households still cannot mix indoors, and outdoor gatherings, including in private gardens, are limited to six.

Pubs remain closed unless operating as restaurants, with alcohol only served as part of a “substantial meal”.

Under “medium alert” Tier 1, people can meet a maximum of six friends or family outdoors or indoors.

Pubs and restaurants can open, but with table service only and an 11pm closing time.

Leisure and entertainment venues can open in both Tier 1 and 2 as long as they follow Covid-secure guidance and customers follow rules on social gatherings.

– Where are the different tiers in place across the country?

⚠️Due to an exponential rise in #COVID19 cases, all 32 London boroughs, and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will move into Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday.

See the full list of areas affected 👇

— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) December 14, 2020

Before the most recently announced changes 99% of the population in England was already living under Tiers 2 and 3.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are under the lightest Tier 1 controls.

London joins large swathes of the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and the North West in the most restrictive Tier 3.

– What are the rules about travelling within and between tiers?

People in Tier 3 areas should avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays, unless it is for work, education, health or care requirements.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said people in Tier 3 “should avoid travelling outside their area and reduce the number of journeys they make wherever possible”.

Those in Tier 1 and 2 areas should not travel to Tier 3 zones, but can pass through them as part of a longer journey.

Asked if people could still go into Tier 3 London to do Christmas shopping, Mr Hancock said: “It is recommended that people should minimise travel unless it is necessary in a Tier 3 area and should minimise travel where it is necessary to a Tier 3 area.”

– How are the tier restrictions decided?

Coronavirus – Mon Dec 14, 2020
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Tolga Akmen)

Mr Hancock insisted that moving the latest areas from Tier 2 to 3 was necessary to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.

He said there had been “very sharp, exponential rises in the virus across London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire” in the last week.

The emergency action was taken ahead of the scheduled review point of all tiers on Wednesday.

When deciding on the tiers, the Government looks at coronavirus cases across all age groups and specifically among the over-60s, who are considered most at risk.

Officials also look at whether infection rates are rising or falling in the area and the positivity rate – meaning the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken.

Pressure on the NHS is also taken into account, including current and projected occupancy.

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