RISING coronavirus infections now mean ALL areas of England are following the specific lockdown rules of a three-Tier system.
A spike in coronavirus cases saw the three-tiered lockdown system come into place on December 2, with London, Essex and and parts of Hertfordshire now joining areas such as Greater Manchester placed in "very high alert". But what is "Tier 3 Plus"?
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What is Tier 3 plus?
Reports suggest there are discussions to change the specifics to each tier – and even extending it beyond its current three with talk of a Tier 3 Plus.
Tier 3 Plus would be stricter than the third tier – or very high alert level – which saw around a fifth of the country falling under heavy restrictions prior to the national lockdown.
Like the nationwide lockdown, this new Tier could see all non-essential businesses and restaurants close with chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty previously warning that Tier Three restrictions may not be enough to stop the rising number of covid cases.
iNews reported in October that discussions among officials in Whitehall and local authorities were already underway over adding a fourth tier.
Under tier three, pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals are required to close, as are casinos, adult gaming centres, and soft play centres.
But, non-essential shops can remain open under tier three restrictions.
There is a baseline set of Tier 3 restrictions for all affected high-risk areas.
But in Tier 3 areas such as Leeds, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire, extra measures were introduced by local councils at the end of October.
In Nottinghamshire, pubs, bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, nail bars and tattoo parlours were forced to shut and comply with the banning of alcohol sales after 9pm.
Why do people think there could be another Tier added?
In August, the Department for Education published a four-tier structure, in which all educational institutions – including primary schools and early years settings – would be shut.
The rumour of another Tier comes as fears continue to rise over if relaxed restrictions over the Christmas and festive period would create a spike in infections.
The addition of a new Tier will largely depend on the R rate with most recent figures revealing that the infection rate is slowing down.
But there is still no concrete information on if the addition of Tier 3 Plus will come and when.
On October 26, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast: "We've always said that we take nothing off the table.
"Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.
"The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control.
"We rule nothing out, but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt."
What are the rules now for Tiers 1, 2 and 3?
Ministers agreed to UK-wide set of travel rules which will come into play over the festive period.
Up to three households will be allowed to mix over a period of five days in December, from the 23rd to the 27th, and there will be no limits on numbers except in Scotland, where the max will be eight.
Over these five days the three households will have to form an exclusive bubble and not mix with others.
There will be a relaxation of restrictions on overnight stays, and people will be allowed to travel freely across Tiers.
People in their 'Christmas bubble' will be able to go to other people's homes, church or public spaces together – but wont be able to go to the pub or out for meals in any indoor settings
But after the festive period finishes on December 27, the three Tier system will come back into force, with their own sets of specific rules.
- he rule of six will apply inside and outside to Tier 1 areas – meaning households can mix in groups of up to six.
- People in these areas will also be able to visit pubs and restaurants indoors – although they must place their last orders at 10pm.
- Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can carry on doing so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
- Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm
- Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue.
- You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
- People are banned from socialising in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of six’
- Businesses and venues can continue to operate
- Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants.
- Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
- Pubs and bars must provide table service only, close between 11pm and 5am and stop taking orders after 10pm
- After 10pm hospitality businesses can sell food and drink via delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
- Casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls must shut at 11pm
Tier three areas are considered to be “very high risk”, where virus transmission rates are of the biggest concern.
- All shops can stay open
- You can meet with others in public outdoor places, such as beaches or parks, but only in groups of up to six people
- However, 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
- Areas should only be at this level for 28 days then a review should take place
- You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble
- People can't stay overnight somewhere outside of their local area unless needed for work, education or similar
- Accommodation will be closed in these areas except for specific reasons
- Pubs, cafes and restaurants must close except for takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
- You should work from home where possible
- Businesses such as hair, beauty and nail salons can stay open
- People are advised against travelling out of their area
- You should still wear a face covering
- Public buildings such as libraries can open
- Up to 15 people can attend a wedding ceremony or civil partnership but no reception is allowed
- Up to 30 people can attend someone’s funeral and up to 15 people can attend someone’s wake
- Gyms, pools, and leisure facilities can open
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