Boris Johnson has announced that when the current lockdown ends, England will return to a three-tier system of national restrictions. Speaking to the House of Commons on Monday 23 November, the prime minister said that there will also be changes to what is allowed in each tier.
We provide answers to some of the questions you might have about the upcoming changes.
What will happen after England’s lockdown ends?
According to the prime minister, the lockdown in England will officially end on 2 December and will not be renewed. A tougher three-tier system will replace the lockdown under the new ‘Covid-19 winter plan’.
The government will announce which areas will fall into which tier on Thursday 26 November. The prime minister has warned that more regions will fall (at least temporarily) into higher levels than before.
That means that we might see more regions being put into the more restrictive tier 3.
How did the tier system work before the lockdown in England?
Originally, England was divided into tier 1 (medium alert), tier 2 (high alert) and tier 3 (very high alert) areas.
Areas in tier 1 were subject to national measures that included restaurants and pubs closing at 10pm and a ban on meetings or gatherings of more than six people.
In tier 2 areas, as well as tier 1 measures, there was a ban on different households mixing indoors with the application of the ‘rule of six’ to outdoor meetings.
Tier 3 areas saw the strictest measures, with households mixing in both indoor and outdoor settings banned, and restaurants and pubs closed unless they also served meals.
How will the tier rules change?
The prime minister has said that unlike the previous arrangement, tiers will now have a uniform set of rules. That means that there won’t be any negotiations with local governments on additional measures for each region.
The following rules will apply to all areas in England after the lockdown ends:
- Shops, gyms and personal care services will be allowed to reopen
- Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports will resume
- You will be able to leave home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor places (but will still have to adhere to the rule of six)
However, there will be different rules for the hospitality sector and spectator sports in each tier.
- In tier 1, pubs will cease serving alcohol at 10pm but will remain open until 11pm for customers to finish food and drinks.
- In tier 2, pubs will only be able to serve alcohol with a substantial meal. This rule previously only applied to tier 3 areas.
- Areas in tier 3 will see tougher restrictions, with indoor entertainment venues, hotels and other accommodation closing. Additionally, pubs and restaurants will shut except for delivery and takeaways.
- In tier 1 and tier 2, sports venues can welcome back spectators to events but with capacity limits.
- Tier 3 areas will not be allowed to admit spectators.
There’s no confirmation yet on what the exact limits will be. The BBC and Sky say that in tier 1 it’ll be 50% of capacity or 4,000 spectators, whichever is lower. This will drop to 2,000 or 50% for indoor venues. In tier 2 areas, it will be 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors or 50% capacity.
What about Christmas?
The prime minister has said that to allow families to come together this Christmas while minimising risk, he is going to work with the devolved administrations on a ‘special, time-limited Christmas dispensation’.
Although it has not been confirmed, the Telegraph suggests that a plan for families to enjoy Christmas festivities together across the whole country will be agreed, with three to four households being allowed to mix and lockdown rules being paused for five days.
That means that households will be able to create temporary bubbles, probably between 22 and 28 December. But they’ll have to create them in advance and will not be allowed to mix with anyone outside the bubble during the Christmas break.
Other restrictions, including the closure of pubs, are also expected to be relaxed over the festive break.
The coronavirus and your finances
This year has undoubtedly been a tough for most of us, both mentally and financially. The ever-changing lockdown rules in England have not made things any easier.
But if there’s one silver lining to all of this, it’s that the lockdowns and restrictions have taught us the importance of always having our financial affairs in order.
At a time when everything else seems out of our control, being on top of our finances, whether by starting an emergency fund, sorting our pension, or getting an ISA, can help us feel a little more in control and less anxious about the future.
Check out our coronavirus money guide for useful tips on how to protect your finances right now and prepare for whatever the future might hold.
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