From Saturday, even more towns across England will be in a tier 3 covid lockdown. If you’re affected by these changes, chances are you’re wondering how long the tier 3 restrictions will last?
Well, we’ll start with the bad news – no one knows. But let’s check out what the rules say and shed some light on the situation.
Tier 3, or ‘very high’, is the highest alert level in the UK government’s new Covid Alert Level System. It’s used to designate areas where:
- Infection rates are climbing
- Hospitals are under pressure
- There’s a real risk of overwhelming the NHS without further action
Right now, most of England is still in tier 1, so national restrictions apply (e.g. wearing face coverings and the rule of six). From Saturday, tier 3 will apply in:
- Liverpool City and surrounding areas, including Wirral and St Helens.
- Lancashire towns including Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston and Lancaster.
You can see a full list of which tiers apply to which areas on the gov.uk website.
We’ve looked at tier 3 rules in detail before, but here’s a quick summary:
- You can’t meet anyone outside your household unless it’s in an outdoor space. You still need to follow the rule of six.
- Pubs can only remain open if they serve food. It’s table service only and pubs must shut at 10pm.
- You shouldn’t travel outside your area unless it’s absolutely essential, and it’s wise to work from home if you can.
Local restrictions vary. For example:
- Gyms are closed in Merseyside.
- From Monday 19 October, betting shops, casinos and soft play areas are closed in Lancashire.
So how does an area get out of tier 3 lockdown once restrictions are applied? It all comes down to the “sunset clause”.
The sunset clause
The UK government recognises that tier 3 is tough on the economy and livelihoods. So, the goal is to lift restrictions as soon as possible. To make this possible, tier 3 restrictions are kept under constant review, and they are due to end in four weeks unless there’s a compelling reason to keep them in place. This is known as a “sunset clause”.
But what does it mean? Here’s a simple breakdown:
- If you’re in tier 3, the goal is to get you back to tier 2 quickly.
- Restrictions could be lifted in just a few weeks, since they’re kept under constant review. It’s simply too early to tell what will happen.
- Tier 3 restrictions can automatically end after four weeks thanks to the sunset clause, but there’s no guarantee this will happen. It’s just as likely they’ll stay in place.
How is it likely to work? Well, we can expect lots of local consultations during the interim weeks, but we can’t bank on any substantial changes.
It’s unclear what criteria the UK government will follow to bring areas out of tier 3, but it’ll likely come down to:
- Infection rates
- Effectiveness of current measures
Our suggestion? Take it week by week.
Lockdown and your money
Worried about how the new restrictions will affect your finances? You’re not alone – over 2 million people have felt the same way during the pandemic. So, here’s a plan for boosting your finances that you can follow for however long the restrictions last.
Make a plan
List your income and expenditure and put a contingency plan together. What happens if you lose your job? Are there any benefits you’re entitled to that you haven’t applied for yet? Now’s the time to plan for the future.
If you’re worried about paying your debts, talk to your lender sooner rather than later.
Open a savings account. Put whatever you can away so that if there’s a setback, you can still pay your bills. If you’re not going out so much, you should have a little money to put away – even if it’s just £5 or £10 per week.
Shop around for better deals
Could you make your money go further? Maybe a balance transfer credit card could save you money right now. Take a look and see what deals are out there.
Okay, so there’s one thing we do know for sure: even if you move out of tier 2 into tier 3, you’ll be under pretty severe restrictions until mid-November, anyway. However, it’s vital you keep an eye on your local covid alert level, because the rules are so new that they could literally change at any time.
In the meantime, you can protect your finances by saving money where possible and paying down your debts. If you’re a small business owner, keep a close eye on your cash flow and mitigate costs where you can.
If you feel you need extra support with your money or any mental health worries right now, charities like Mind are ready to help.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your money work for you, why not sign up for MyWalletHero’s email newsletter? You’ll receive our team’s top money-saving tips, lifestyle hacks and handy personal finance ‘must-knows’ – delivered straight to your inbox…
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