Millions of people in England had a new raft of strict restrictions thrust upon them on Saturday as the government attempted to halt a concerning rise in coronavirus cases.
The introduction of a fourth tier of covid rules has halted the Christmas plans of many, with the government blaming the increasing prominence of a new fast-spreading strain of covid.
Those under tier 4 restrictions are advised to stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse” to leave their home, with travel to and from tier 4 severely restricted.
Here’s what you can and can’t do in a tier 4 area.
Where is under tier 4 restrictions?
The parts of London, the South East and the East of England which were previously in Tier 3 have moved into the new Tier 4, affecting nearly 18 million people.
In the South East this covers Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.
In the East of England it applies to Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
It also includes all of the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London.
What are the restrictions on meeting people?
You cannot meet other people indoors unless you live with them or they are part of your existing support bubble.
Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household in a public place.
Am I allowed to leave my home?
You must stay at home and only leave for a specific purpose or if you have a “reasonable excuse”.
This includes going to work if it cannot be done from home, shopping for essentials such as food and medicine, attending education or training, using registered childcare, outdoor exercise and for medical reasons.
What about support and childcare bubbles?
Support and childcare bubbles can continue in Tier 4 areas.
Early years settings and childminders can remain open as normal, while nannies are also allowed to carry on providing services, including in the home.
Can I form a Christmas bubble?
No – the limitations on meeting people will still apply over the festive period in Tier 4, meaning you will not be able to join or form Christmas bubbles.
Can shops stay open?
In Tier 4 non-essential retail must close, including clothing and homeware stores, betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops.
However, these stores can continue to operate click-and-collect systems, if goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises, and delivery services.
“Essential” retailers such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, off-licences and Christmas tree retailers can continue to open.
Can I leave tier 4?
You should not leave a Tier 4 area unless for permitted reasons, such as work, education, caring responsibilities, to visit a support bubble or for medical reasons, and someone from a Tier 1, 2 or 3 area should not enter a Tier 4 zone except for the same reasons.
Are care home visits permitted?
Visits to care homes are allowed if arrangements are in place to protect residents via screens, visiting pods or behind windows.
However, the Government said “close-contact indoor visits supported by testing” are not allowed in Tier 4. Updated guidance is due to be issued.