From today, the national restrictions have come to an end, and we move back into a tiered system. London has entered Tier 2. It is vitally important that we follow these restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, so that it is there for all of us when we need it.
I understand that lockdowns and other restrictions have caused enormous stress and disruption to people’s lives. I also understand that lockdowns do cause other side effects and we must be mindful of these when considering policy options. I know that Ministers agree and are working hard to consider all possibilities before they put forward any measures.
I would like to reassure you that all the measures put in place to respond to this outbreak are proportionate to the threat we face. It is important that they will only be used when strictly necessary and will only be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation. The tiers will be reviewed every two weeks, with latest data informing any decision to change which tier the different regions of the country will be in.
I am pleased that in all tiers non-essential retail will reopen, while leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, sports courts and leisure centres can also reopen. Personal care and close contact services such as hairdressers can remain open, as can public buildings, community centres and halls. Most pleasing is that places of worship can now open to communal worship, subject to the relevant social contact rules in each tier.
With London entering Tier 2, this means that:
- 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
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of 6’
- businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
- pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
- hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:
- provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol
- close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt)
- stop taking orders after 10pm
- hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
- public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
- places of worship remain open, but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies
- weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings
- organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
- organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
- you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
When living in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area, while avoiding travel to or overnights stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary.
There is also this useful graphic showing the restrictions for tier 2 areas:
I fully recognise the impact that these restrictions place on all of our lives, but they will only be in place for as long as necessary. Coronavirus has tested us all but has shown the best of our society. The emergence of potential vaccine candidates over the past few weeks has proven that there is hope on the horizon.