England's New Lockdown Rules Explained

Johnson Announces New Tier Harsher System for December

After 3 weeks in lockdown, Johnson has today announced exactly what the rule changes will be when November ends. There has been a lot of speculation in the last few weeks about exactly what the new rules will be – some have suggested a return to tiers as before, some have suggested a strengthening of the tiers system.

So let’s walk through exactly what has been announced and what it means for people living in England.

Johnson started off by promising that by spring he hopes that life will be back to normal. He added that no other peace-time Prime Minister has asked so much of the British people. However, as he points out, we are not there yet.

For that reason, more restrictions are needed when the lockdown comes to an end on the 2nd December. This means that the tiered system will make a return – and will be made even tougher.

The key changes to the tiers are as follows.

Tier 1

  • People are advised to work from home wherever possible
  • Spectator sports and business events can resume both inside and outside (with capacity limits and social distancing)

Tier 2

  • Alcohol can only be served in hospitality venues when it is sold as part of a ‘substantial meal’
  • Spectator sports and business events can resume both inside and outside (with capacity limits and social distancing)

Tier 3

  • Indoor entertainment, hotels etc will have to close. This includes hospitality
  • All local areas will be offered a “6 week surge in testing”. If this works, those who test negative will be subject to fewer restrictions (for example, they can meet up in certain areas with other people who have tested negative)

All Tiers

  • Hospitality venues must call for last orders at 10pm, but patrons can finish their drinks until 11pm. This replaces the rule whereby all hospitality venues must be completely closed at 10pm
  • New powers to close down venues that are not complying with the rules
  • Soon (hopefully January), the government plans to relax the rules on self isolation – allowing contacts of those who test positive daily tests for a week. This would mean that self-isolation would only need to occur if the contact also tests positive

The Prime Minister has made clear that the rules will be the same throughout England. What this means is that if an area goes to Tier 3, they will be placed under exactly the same restrictions as another area in England in Tier 3. Before the November lockdown, restrictions in Tier 3 were agreed between the government and local leaders, meaning that some Tier 3 areas had harsher rules than others.

The Prime Minister has not yet announced which areas are in which tiers – but has stated that this will be made clear by the end of the week. He has said that he ‘hopes’ this will happen on Thursday. While we do not yet know which areas will go into which tier, the Prime Minister has made clear that he expects more areas to go into a higher tier – at least temporarily. 

He made clear that the rapid testing will hopefully ensure that regions are not in the higher tiers for that long. 

It is expected that tomorrow, the Prime Minister will set out plans to allow families to see each other, temporarily, for the Christmas period. We’ll update this article when this happens!

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