Phil Day By Superintendent Pharmacist Published:

The Government recently announced the Covid Winter Plan for England, as the country exits the national lockdown and enters the local restrictions, using an updated version of the three tier system. Here we’re going to breakdown each tier and highlight the changes the Government has introduced since the previous three tier system was used back in October.

Which tier am I in?

The tier level for each area is based on 5 key factors:

  • case detection rates in all age groups
  • case detection rates in the over-60s
  • the rate at which cases are rising or falling
  • positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
  • local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy

You can find out which tier you are in and the coronavirus restrictions in your area on the government website. Just enter your postcode and you’ll get the most up to date information – check your tier or view the full list of tiers.

What are the rules for my tier?

Firstly, there is some guidance which everyone should follow, regardless of which tier they are in:

  • Face coverings – should be worn in most indoor public spaces (unless you’re exempt).
  • Education – all schools, colleges and universities remain open and should be attended as normal, unless you have to self-isolate.
  • Businesses – all those allowed to remain open can do so but must follow COVID-19 secure guidelines.
  • Commuting – avoid peak times and routes, and try to walk and cycle where possible.
  • Socialising – make sure you follow the restrictions and limits for your tiers, apart from any specific exceptions.

Socialising
Maximum of 6 people to meet at any one time, indoors or outdoors.
Shops and services
Can remain open unless they’ve been asked to remain closed by law, such as nightclubs.
Hospitality
Permitted to open but must close between 11pm and 5am, unless they offer a takeaway service. This early closure also applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, theme parks and other similar venues.
Public events
Attendance at outdoor and indoor events is allowed but with a limited capacity.
Sport
Organised outdoor sport can resume and indoor sport classes must follow the ‘rule of 6’.
Travelling
If you travel to an area in a higher tier you must follow the rules for the area you are visiting. It’s recommended you avoid going to a tier 3 area other than for essential travel.

Socialising
You must not socialise indoors with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You can still see friends and family outside of your household and support bubble (but in a maximum group of 6) in a private garden or other outdoor space.
Shops and services
Can remain open unless they’ve been asked to remain closed by law, such as nightclubs.
Hospitality
Permitted to open but must close between 11pm and 5am, unless they offer a takeaway service. This early closure also applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, theme parks and other like activities.
Public events
Attendance at outdoor and indoor events is allowed but with a limited capacity.
Sport
Organised outdoor sport can resume and indoor sport classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those outside their household/support bubble.
Travelling
If you travel to an area in a higher tier you must follow the rules for the area you are visiting. It’s recommended you avoid going to a tier 3 area other than for essential travel.

Socialising
You must not socialise indoors or in most outdoor spaces with anyone outside of your household or support bubble, including private gardens. You can see friends and family outside your household and support bubble in some outdoor public spaces only, such as parks (in a maximum group of 6).
Shops and services
Can remain open unless they’ve been asked to remain closed by law, such as nightclubs.
Hospitality
All hospitality venues serving food or drinks must close, but are permitted to open for takeaway services. Accommodation venues must close.Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. Such as: casinos, cinemas, theatres, theme parks, indoor play centres and more. Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close
Public events
Attendance at outdoor and indoor events is not allowed apart from the exception of drive through events.
Sport
Organised outdoor sport can resume, however higher-risk contact activity should not. Indoor sport classes aren’t allowed but leisure and sports facilities may stay open.
Travelling
Avoid travelling outside of your area, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work.

When will the tiers be reviewed?

The tiers will be reviewed by the Government every two weeks, with the first review on the 16th December; any changes will be announced on the 17th December.

What are the updates to support bubbles?

The Government has announced specific guidance for the Christmas period. From the 23rd to 27th December, restrictions will be eased allowing you to form a new ‘Christmas bubble’. This means you’ll be able to spend time with family and friends outside of your normal household and your usual support bubble.

You will be allowed to form a bubble of up to three households, in which you’ll be able to mix socially indoors and stay overnight, to enjoy the festive period together. If you are vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable, forming a bubble carries additional risks. You can take extra precautions which have been set out by the Government and others in your bubble should be extra vigilant in the days prior to getting together.

Please continue to follow NHS and government guidance and remember: hands, face, space.