Tier 3 restrictions: what ‘very high alert’ lockdown rules mean - and which areas in the UK are affected

South Yorkshire is the latest region in England to be moved in the ‘very high’ Covid local alert level

Several regions in England have now been placed into the ‘very high’ level for Covid-19 restrictions, with South Yorkshire being the latest region to be moved into Tier 3.

When the new three tiered system for local lockdowns was announced by the Prime Minister just over a week ago, on 12 October, only one region was subject to the highest level of restrictions.

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However, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to climb, the government has since placed three more regions under the stricter measures, with more expected to follow.

South Yorkshire is the latest region to be placed under the very high Covid alert level

What are the rules for areas on ‘very high’ alert?

The ‘very high’ Covid alert level (Tier 3) applies to areas with the highest infection rates and includes the strictest lockdown restrictions.

If you live in an area subject to very high alert level restrictions, you must not meet socially with family or friends indoors in any setting, unless they are part of your household or support bubble.

As well as a ban on meeting in private homes, this also includes indoor hospitality venues, such as.

- pubs and restaurants, where they are permitted to open

- leisure and entertainment venues

- places of worship

You must also not meet with anyone outside of your household, or support bubble, in a private garden or in most outdoor public venues.

However, you may continue to meet family and friends who you do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in groups of up to six or less in certain outdoor public spaces. These include:

- parks, beaches, countryside, forests

- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments

- outdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds

When meeting socially, you must not meet in a group that exceeds six people. In England this limit of six includes children of any age.

What about childcare?

There are exceptions from the legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups.

This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies.

The following people are permitted to provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

- registered childcare providers, including nannies

- people in your support bubble

- people in your childcare bubble

What about businesses?

In very high alert level areas, pubs and bars will be forced to close, unless they serve substantial meals, such as a main lunchtime or evening meal.

Possible further restrictions on hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors may also be introduced, depending on discussions between central and local government.

However, retail, schools, universities and places of worship will remain open, but will be subject to the further restrictions on social contact that apply in this tier.

Venues following Covid-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors or in most public outdoor venues with anyone who they do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with.

Which areas are in Tier 3?

Liverpool City Region and Lancashire are already subject to Tier 3 restrictions, with Greater Manchester to move into this alert level from 00.01am on Friday (23 October).

South Yorkshire will also move into this Tier from 00.01am on Saturday (24 October).

The Tier 3 restrictions affect the following towns and cities:

Liverpool City Region




St Helens





Blackburn with Darwen








Ribble Valley


South Ribble

West Lancashire


Greater Manchester











South Yorkshire