Today’s tier update puts more of the nation into the tightest restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference from Downing Street this afternoon, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that more areas of England – including parts of the south east, east, and south west – will will move up a level in restrictions at 00:01 on Boxing Day (December 26). From this date, Bristol as well as Somerset (including North Somerset) and Gloucestershire will move from Tier 2 to Tier 3 of Covid-19 restrictions as cases continue to rise.
The news comes as rumours continue to swirl about the possibility of a third national lockdown in the New Year. Leading figures from the UK scientific community, including the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, have warned that a national lockdown may be necessary after the “inevitable mixing” over Christmas. For now, the UK government has stopped short of such a drastic step, instead opting to move more of the country into the highest tier, Tier 4, or second highest, Tier 3.
Delivering the tier update, Hancock said “we’ve got to keep our resolve” and noted that “Tier 3 is not enough to control the new variant”. New areas joining London in Tier 4 on Boxing Day are as follows: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, all parts of Essex not currently in Tier 4, Hampshire (excluding the New Forest), and the borough of Waverley in Surrey. Meanwhile, many Tier 2 areas will be moved up to Tier 3, including Bristol, Swindon, Somerset (including North Somerset), Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, and Warrington. Finally, the few areas that were in Tier 1 – Cornwall and Herefordshire – will move up to Tier 2 at the same time. Hancock said he was “truly sorry for the disruption it causes”.
The current R rate in England stands at 1.3, with cases up 57% in the last week – similarly, cases in London have doubled in the past week, with 600 cases per 100,000 recorded in the capital. It’s thought to be a result of the mutated variant of Covid-19, a more contagious variety which originated in south-east England and has led to many countries cancelling flights from the UK earlier this week. As you may already be aware by now, the rising number of cases have also forced a change to Christmas arrangements, with household mixing forbidden in Tier 4, and restricted to just Christmas Day for the rest of England.
So, let’s do a quick recap of Bristol’s rules, shall we?
- No mixing with other households indoors (apart from support bubbles).
- You can meet with up to six people in some outdoor spaces, e.g. parks.
- Pubs and restaurants will be permitted to offer takeaway and delivery only.
- Outdoor grassroots sport and exercise classes are allowed.
- Gyms are allowed to reopen, regardless of tier (though indoor classes or group activities can’t go ahead).
- Salons (hairdressers, tattoo studios, etc) will be open.
- Non-essential shops will reopen all over the country.
- Weddings can go ahead with up to 15 guests, with no reception. Funerals can go ahead with up to 30 guests.
- You should avoid travelling out of the area, except for things like work, education and medical visits.