Three tier lockdown: new Covid rules after national England restrictions end on 2 December explained - and latest update on Christmas

Prime minister Boris Johnson sets out new Covid rules to “carry us safely to spring”

England will return to a revised three tier Covid alert system when the national lockdown ends on 2 December, Boris Johnson confirmed on 23 November.

The prime minister, speaking via video link to the House of Commons, announced that gyms and shops can reopen and remain open once restrictions around the second lockdown expire.

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Announcing his winter coronavirus plan, Mr Johnson warned the virus is still widespread in many areas across the country and that restrictions were still required to combat Covid.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined England's three tier plan after the lockdown restrictions end on 2 December. (Pic: Getty Images)Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined England's three tier plan after the lockdown restrictions end on 2 December. (Pic: Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined England's three tier plan after the lockdown restrictions end on 2 December. (Pic: Getty Images)

The three tier approach, which was replaced by a national lockdown on 5 November, will need to be tougher to help limit the spread of coronavirus, Mr Johnson added.

What is the new tiered system?

Mr Johnson, addressing the Commons, has kept the three tier approach used before lockdown from 2 December, amid reports of a fourth tier being implemented.

The PM gave an example of the new tier restrictions, stating people were encouraged to work from home in tier one, that alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal in tier two and hospitality would have to close except for delivery and takeaway in tier three.

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The Rule of Six will come back into force, meaning a person living in a tier one area can socialise with a maximum of five other people indoors or outdoors.

This is restricted to only outdoors in tier two and is not permitted in either indoor or outdoor settings in tier three, though still allowed in some outdoor areas such as parks.

The new, tougher tier system would “carry us safely to spring”, Mr Johnson said.

Can pubs reopen?

Yes - though the restrictions vary through the tiers.

In tier one, pubs must stop taking orders at 10pm but can remain open until 11pm for patrons to finish their drinks. Venues must be table service only.

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In tier two, pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Alcohol can only be served with substantial meals and the same closing times apply.

In tier three, hospitality must close with the exception of sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery.

What are the rules around large events?

Sporting events and live performances could see a return of spectators in tiers one and two.

In tier one, venues will be limited to 50% capacity or 4,000 people outdoors (whichever is lower) and 50% capacity or 1,000 people indoors (whichever is lower).

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That number is reduced further in tier two to 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.

The government advises that large events, except drive-in events, should not take place in tier three.

What is happening at Christmas?

Mr Johnson said Christmas would not be “normal” this year but recognised the importance of spending time with loved ones, particularly during the festive season.

“I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year but in a period of adversity time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.

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“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it.

“But this virus obviously is not going to grant a Christmas truce… and families will need to make a careful judgement about the risks of visiting elderly relatives,” Mr Johnson added.

The government is working with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a uniformed approach to reduce the restrictions for a short window over Christmas.

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When will the new three tier system start?

The second national lockdown will end on 00:01 on 2 December 2020 when England will revert back to a more localised approach to suppressing the virus.

What tier am I in?

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Mr Johnson said details of which tier each area is placed in will be announced on Thursday 26 November and that this will be reviewed regularly.

Areas will move up or down the tier system depending on the success of suppressing the virus.