Boris Johnson has announced a swathe of new lockdown restrictions for England with the introduction of a new three tiered system of local Covid alert levels.
The stricter measures have seen regions divided into ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alerts based on the level of local infection rates, with each of the three tiers dictating different restrictions.
The move comes amid concerns that the virus is spreading out of control in northern England and the Midlands, forcing restrictions to be tightened in an effort to prevent further spread and relieve pressure on hospitals.
But what are the rules on social gatherings in each tier? Here’s everything you need to know about the new system.
How many people can I meet?
The rules on social gatherings differ from area to area, with regions in a higher tier facing the toughest restrictions.
Areas that are placed in the medium alert level (tier 1) will be subject to the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew. This means that household mixing indoors is still permitted, provided you do not exceed the six person limit.
In areas where the Covid alert level is high (tier 2), the restrictions are similar to those that were previously implemented in areas under local lockdown, but there is now more consistency across the country.
Areas on high alert must not:
- meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place, such as pubs, bars and restaurants
- meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space
Finally, the very high alert level (tier 3) applies to areas with the highest infection rates and includes the strictest restrictions.
In these areas, people must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, but can meet in certain outdoor public spaces in groups of six or less. These include:
- parks, beaches, countryside, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
- outdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds
People are also advised to avoid travelling outside of their local area, or entering another ‘very high’ alert area, other than for essential purposes, such as work or education.
Pubs and bars have been instructed to close in these areas, unless they can operate as a restaurant, in a bid to reduce transmission. These areas may also face possible further restrictions on hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors, but retail, schools and universities will remain open.
What are the Covid alert levels by area?
This is the full list of local Covid alert levels across England:
All areas, excluding those listed below
Cheshire West and Chester
High Peak - the wards of:
Blackburn with Darwen
Redcar and Cleveland
Oadby and Wigston
Very high alert:
Liverpool City Region