Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Forty percent of England's population slides into
Tier 3 of the Covid alert restrictions on December 2, but how long will that state of torpor have to be endured for many businesses and their customers, with no vaccine available at scale until well into 2021?
We look at three key questions below:-
1.Who falls into which Tier and how do you move Tiers?
3. How will mass testing work in your area, as a solution?
OPEN/CLOSED:- WHAT CAN YOU & CAN'T YOU DO IN EACH TIER?
Only Cornwall, the Scilly Isles and the Isle of Wight were placed in Tier 1
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The new measures in England start from Wednesday, December 2, as the national lockdown ends. The current ranking be will be reviewed next on December 16 and then a fortnight later after Christmas on December 30, and officially every fortnight after that, though Matt Hancock conceded in a question following his statement that this could move to weekly.
"We will review these in a fortnight, and then regularly, by which he can reasonably take weekly,' he said.
'And we will have a weekly cycle of meetings with the CMO chairing a meeting typically on a Tuesday, I then chair the meeting on a Wednesday for an announcement on Thursday for any change to the tiers.'
This allows for the remote possibility of areas moving down a tier in advance of Christmas.
However, from a local perspective, as all of Lancashire was grouped together in Tier 3, that may mean all of Lancashire might have to emerge together.
Certainly this will be pushed for by local authority leaders, who had written to the government in advance of the announcement suggesting that all but five areas of Lancashire should be placed in Tier 2, but the Health Secretary has already indicated that type of sub-regional call will not be typical.
"We are prepared to take those decisions at a lower-tier local authority area level. That is the exception rather than the norm but we will look at it every single week,'" he said.
COMMUNITY TESTING NOW KEY TO MOVING TIERS
The government has offered a rapid ramp-up of mass testing to Local Authorities in all Tier 3 areas, in a bid to follow the Liverpool example after the pilot there saw a substantial decline and the Merseyside City Region placed in Tier 2.
Local authorities in Tier 3 are to be offered a 6-week rapid community testing programme with support from NHS Test and Trace and the armed forces to deliver that.
Boris Johnson confirmed the army will be used where necessary to support the roll-out, where local communities have the will to support mass testing and there were, "huge stocks of lateral flow tests to support this."
"Testing on this scale is untried, but in due course, if it works, where people test negative, it may also be possible for families and communities to be released from certain restrictions, even if their home area stays in tier 3."
Local authorities will be able to decide whether to use lateral flow test kits for targeted testing for high-risk workplaces and industries, or for wider asymptomatic community testing, to find positive cases more quickly and break chains of transmission.
Until the spring this will be the key to triggering moves between tiers and getting back to a semblance of business and social normality, ahead of widespread vaccine availability next year.
One valid question that has not been answered is, does mass testing continue if and when you drop to Tier 2, to prevent a yo-yo slide back to Tier 3 again after 6 weeks of testing?
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2 & 3?
RETAIL, ENTERTAINMENT AND PERSONAL CARE
Everything is open in both tiers, other than indoor entertainment venues which are closed in tier three.
In tier two pubs that serve substantial food can serve alcohol and remain up to 11pm, with last orders at 10pm, but you can only sit at a table with households or social bubbles.
In tier three all hospitality is closed, bar takeaways and delivery
TRAVEL AND ACCOMODATION
In tier three all accommodation is closed, other than for the reasons below
If you live in a tier-three area limit your journeys, if possible do not travel out of the area, with the exceptions necessary journeys for work, education/youth services, or those with medical or caring responsibilities.
You are not permitted to stay overnight outside of tier three if other than for the above reasons.
In tier two accommodation is open
If you live in a tier two area avoid travel into a tier-three area, apart from necessary travel for the above exceptions.
You can only stay overnight but only within your own household or support bubble.
EVENTS, LIVE SPORT AND EXERCISE
In tier three adult exercise classes can only take place indoors if the participants are from the same household bubble. Outdoors exercise and sport should avoid higher risk contact physical activity.
No live events for sport, business or live performances, other than drive-in.
In tier two adult sport and classes can take place outdoors but indoors only where there is no interaction between different households.
At events for sport, business or live performances, social contact limits apply and capacity is limited to 50% or 2000, whichever is lower.
WORK, STUDY AND WORSHIP
There are no differences
WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS
The same rules apply to both tier two and tier three, other than wedding receptions are not permitted in tier three.
15 guests are allowed at a wedding, civil partnership or a wake
30 are allowed at a funeral
MEETING FRIENDS AND FAMILY
In tier three, other than support bubbles there is no household mixing indoors or outdoors, other a group of a maximum of six, in parks, sports courts, public gardens
In tier two there’s no household mixing indoors, other than your support bubble but you can have a group of six meet in a private garden.
Remember the Christmas suspension does not alter any of the regulations of the tier system other than:-
Between December 23 and 27, across the UK people will be able to meet with those in other households in their three-household bubble - but only in a private home, a place of worship or outdoors
A bubble will not be allowed to meet in pubs,restaurants or bars
Travel restrictions across the whole of the UK will be lifted during the period, allowing people to travel across the nations or between local tiers to meet with those within their bubble
· Those travelling to and from Northern Ireland will be permitted to travel an additional day either side.