On Wednesday 14 October a new three tier Covid-19 alert system was introduced in England.
As the new rules are implemented, many people have questions about what they can and cannot do - for example, are residents in ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert level areas able to travel or enjoy a ‘staycation’ within the UK?
This is everything you need to know.
What are the three tiers?
The new system is based on a three tier alert system - ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’.
The medium level (Tier 1), which covers the majority of the country, consists of the previous national measures, such as the rule of six and the closure of hospitality venues at 10pm.
The high alert level (Tier 2) primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between households indoors. The rule of six will continue to apply in outdoor settings, including private gardens.
The very high alert level (Tier 3) is reserved for areas with transmission rates causing the greatest concern.
The government has issued baseline guidelines for locations with very high alert levels, although local authorities can implement further measures depending on the situation. The baseline rules include things like the closure of bars and pubs and prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens.
Can you still travel if you live in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 area?
For those living in Tier 2 areas, the government says, “You can still travel within high alert areas to hotels and other guest accommodation, but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.”
You can also still go on holiday outside of high alert level areas, but again, must only do this with people in your household or support bubble.
For those living in Tier 3 alert level areas, the advice remains the same, with the government saying that you can still travel within the area to go to hotels and other guest accommodation, as long as you only do so with people in your household or support bubble.
“If you are a resident in a very high alert level area, we ask you to avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, except if you need to for work, education or caring responsibilities,” the government advice states.
The guidelines explain that this means that people cannot leave a Tier 3 area to stay in their second home outside of it, if they have one.
Those who live outside of a Tier 3 area are also instructed to avoid staying overnight in this area, except from those who need to for work, education or caring responsibilities.
How long will the restrictions stay in place?
The government has stated that the measures will be kept under “constant review”, which includes a “four week sunset clause” for interventions in very high alert areas.
How to check the Covid-19 restrictions in your local area
The government has introduced a postcode checker on its website which allows you to check the restrictions in a certain postcode.
Simply enter your postcode and you’ll be taken to a webpage that tells you the alert level in that area, and offers a link to more in depth information about what you can and cannot do, according to relevant guidelines.
Why has a new system been introduced?
Speaking at the coronavirus press conference on Monday 12 October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the new three tiered system.
He said, “We are entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus. Because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.
“There are already more Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals today than there were on 23 March when the whole country went into lockdown, and deaths, alas, are also rising once again.
“These figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet. And we must act now.”
Johnson explained that in return, the government is “simplifying” and “standardising” rules in England by introducing three levels of Covid-19 alerts.