England entered a third national lockdown in January 2021 in the face of rising coronavirus cases and increasing pressures on the NHS.
A roadmap out of lockdown is currently taking shape, and a return to the tiered system is being debated.
We are entirely reconciled to doing what it takes to get the virus down and that may involve tougher measures in the weeks ahead, said Mr Johnson.
However, following the roll out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Jan 4, the Prime Minister has stated that tough, tough weeks are ahead as cases continue to rise.
The Prime Minister stated that there was no question about the need for tougher restrictions in England, with new restrictions being announced in due course.
Prior to the lockdown, more than 6 million people were moved up to Tier 3 on Dec 31, after a new variant of Covid-19 was blamed for a surging infection rate.
In Matt Hancocks most recent review, Tier 3 was imposed in Rutland, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Liverpool, York and North Yorkshire, Bath and North East Somerset, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay, Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire.
19.1 million people were also moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4, affecting much of the North and Midlands.
The hospitality and entertainment industry takes the biggest hit under the revised restrictions for Tier 3, with pubs and restaurants only allowed to stay open for takeaway services.
Heres everything you need to know about Tier 3 and you can find out if it applies to your area with out postcode tool.
Read more: Lockdown rules for each tier
What is very high level/Tier 3 lockdown?
A uniform set of measures apply in each area placed in Tier 3 across the country, rather than negotiations with each local authority.
Under Tier 3 restrictions, people must not meet anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The rule of six applies in open public spaces such as parks and beaches.
Hospitality, such as pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes, are allowed to stay open for takeaway service only. Previously, pubs and restaurants were allowed to stay open if they served substantial meals.
Cinemas remain closed, as do theatres and other indoor entertainment venues such as casinos, bingo halls and skating rinks.
But outdoor sports, such as golf and tennis, have the go-ahead, as does amateur team sports like Sunday-league football.
The other rules are:
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees (15 and 30 respectively), but wedding receptions are not allowed
- Non-essential shops are allowed to stay open, including hairdressers and other personal care businesses
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘very high’ area they are in, or entering a ‘very high’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close, including cinemas, theatres, indoor play centres, concert halls, skating rinks and casinos
- Leisure and sports facilities, such as gyms, can stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead indoors
- Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place
- Hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses have to shut
- Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies
- People are allowed to attend spectator sports, large events or performances in Tier 3 (indoors or outdoors), as now permitted in Tiers 1 and 2
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘very high’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘very high’ area if they are resident elsewhere
Which areas were in Tier 3 before lockdown?
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Liverpool City Region
- Yorkshire and the Humber
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay
- South Gloucestershire
Which areas were moved up from Tier 3?
With cases rising across all regions of England, as well as the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals, the Government put more areas under Tier 4 restrictions from Dec 31, including large areas of the North and the Midlands.
Areas of the West Midlands including Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton - moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4.
Counties in the East Midlands such as Leicestershire and Northamptonshire were also moved into the highest tier of restrictions. Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, who were initially expected to remain in Tier 3, were also moved up.
Hartlepool in North-East England, as well as areas in Lancashire including Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley - will also be upgraded from Tier 3 to 4.
You can see where there has been significant rises in coronavirus cases by using the tool below:
Will Tier 3 restrictions change now we have a vaccine?
Despite the promising approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the Oxford/AstraZenica vaccine on Dec 30, the Prime Minister said the tier system remains essential in keeping “the virus under control”.
Boris Johnson has said: “For the time being, you’ve got to take it that tiering will be a very, very important part of our campaign against coronavirus.”
Matt Hancock said on Dec 14 that the vaccines were giving hope to more people and making this country safer.
However it will take time for its benefits to be felt far and wide, so we must persevere because the virus remains just as deadly as it always has been.
Prof Van Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Advisor, stated on Dec 30 that it would take up to two weeks for scientists to confirm the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were effective against the new strains of Covid-19.
What is happening with mass testing in Tier 3?
All Tier 3 local authorities will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.
This mass testing programme, which is similar to the system seen in Liverpool, began on Monday, Dec 14, giving over 1.6 million rapid lateral flow tests to high-risk communities.
However, several experts have criticised the tests, suggesting they offer false-negative results.
Do hairdressers need to close in Tier 3?
No. Hairdressers and beauty salons are not automatically shut in Tier 3 areas, despite other businesses being told to close.
However, hairdressers could later be closed if cases surge or fail to slow in those areas.
Hairdressers and beauty salons are deemed a lower risk than pubs and bars – which in Tier 3 must close – because there are fewer households mixing.
Do gyms have to close?
Under the current tier system, gyms are allowed to remain open in Tier 3, as are leisure and sports facilities.
But indoor group exercise classes, including dance and fitness sessions, should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms must also close.
Tier 3: Your questions answered
Can I go to work?
The Government has advised that anyone who cannot work from home should go to work. Whether they can work from home depends on the nature of the job and on consultations between employees and employers.
It is permissible to travel in and out of Tier 3 areas for work purposes.
Read more: Can I travel between Tiers?
Can I meet people outside?
You must not meet outdoors anyone outside your household or support bubble, unless there are no more than six people and the meeting takes place in certain open spaces. This includes parks, beaches, the countryside, forests, public gardens and playgrounds. You may not meet in a private garden.
Larger groups can be broken up and fined by police, starting at £200 and doubling for each further offence to a maximum of £6,400.
Can I see my partner?
Under Tier 3, people cannot visit other households indoors unless they are part of a support bubble. This is when a single-adult household joins socially and solely with another household.
Unless your partner is part of your social bubble, Tier 3 rules do not permit you to meet indoors. You may only meet in public, open spaces and must maintain social distancing outdoors.
Read more: Dating during lockdown
Can shops stay open?
Most shops can remain open so long as they are Covid-secure. Depending on where you live, some additional restrictions are in place.
Can restaurants and pubs stay open?
Pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 are required to operate takeaway only.
Businesses that fail to comply with the restrictions face fines of up to £10,000.
Are outdoor sports allowed?
You may meet more than six people for outdoor exercise and dance classes and organised outdoor sport.
Before and after the activity, you must not mingle in groups of more than six. If this is not possible, then no events should take place.
While elite sporting fixtures including Premier League football matches will continue in Tier 3 areas, spectators will not be allowed access to indoor or outdoor events.
Can I look after my grandchildren?
In Tier 3 only grandparent(s) from a single household can look after your child. So if a child has two sets of grandparents in two different households, only one of those households is permitted to look after them.
Grandparents who have multiple grandchildren living in different households may only provide childcare for one of those other households.
Read more: Childcare thrown into chaos
What are the restrictions for weddings and funerals?
Wedding ceremonies are allowed to take place across tiers 1-3, but the number of attendees is limited to 15 and social distancing rules must be adhered to. Wedding receptions are now allowed under Tier 3 restrictions.
30 people can attend a funeral under the new restrictions. However, this number is reduced to 15 for linked commemorative ceremonies such as wakes and stonesettings.
Can I move house?
You can move home and continue to undertake house viewings, so long as you abide by social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering.
Can I travel between tiers?
Government guidelines advise that you should avoid travelling to any area subject to higher Tier restrictions, particularly Tiers 3 and 4, unless it is an essential journey, such as travelling for work or education, or meeting caring responsibilities.
If you are a resident in a Tier 3 area, the Government advises that you do not stay overnight in another part of the UK unless for essential reasons.
Matt Hancock has advised that people in regions in the highest tier of restrictions should avoid travelling outside their area.
Read more: Can I travel between tiers?
Can I stay in a hotel?
If you live in a Tier 3 area, you are no longer allowed to travel to hotels and other guest accommodation.
All accommodation services must shut, but there are exemptions for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training.
Can I play golf?
Yes. Outdoor sports, such as golf and tennis, have the go-ahead, as does amateur team sports like Sunday-league football.
However, under Tier 3, people must not meet anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting – including a “sports facility”.