Bristol will enter Tier 2 of the coronavirus alert system this Saturday.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has just announced updates to the tier system, stating which tier each local authority has been assigned, with Bristol soon to be moving down to Tier 2. The majority of areas have remained in the same tier they are currently in, including nearby local authority, South Gloucestershire, and some areas have been placed into higher tiers, particularly those in the South East.
Bristol and North Somerset are the only areas to escape from Tier 3 restrictions during the latest tier update, after being in Tier 3 for the last two weeks. Tiers were determined based on a multitude of factors, including virus rates, rates of hospitalisation, the rate of growth, and more. The city will be moving from the strictest measures (very high alert) to the middle tier (high alert) from midnight on Saturday 19 December.
Speaking to ITV News, the mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said as of 4pm yesterday (Wednesday 15 December), the city’s rate of cases per 100,000 people was 115 – which was below England’s average of 173 at that time. This is a significant reduction from the situation in Bristol before England went into a second national lockdown from early November.
Talking about Christmas, and the upcoming easing of restrictions, the Mayor advised residents to “engage in Covid-safe behaviours” and “take responsibility”. He added: “While the guidance for Christmas makes more things permissible, that doesn’t mean they are required. We will expect there will be an uptick in Covid after Christmas as a result of people mixing more.”
The Bristol mayor also announced the roll out of lateral flow testing (rapid tests) in the city, with workers at The Bristol Port Company expected to receive the tests first, then extended in the new year.
“So, remind me, what does this mean we’re allowed to do?”
As Bristol enters Tier 2 ( high alert), this means a ban on mixing with other households indoors (outdoor gatherings of up to six are permitted under the “rule of six”), including in pubs and restaurants. Pubs serving food are allowed to remain open, but so-called “wet pubs” serving drinks only are forced to close.
It’s important to note that the tier system isn’t quite the same as it was when we were last in Tier 1 (which may feel like many moons ago). First up, the 10pm curfew will be pushed back an hour. Like before the second national lockdown, last orders will remain at 10pm, but we’ll be allowed an extra hour to polish off our drinks and meals before having to leave. Critics of the 10pm curfew had noted that it encouraged people to all leave at the same time – so the hope is that the extension will lead to a smoother exit come closing time, as well as giving beleaguered hospitality spots time to squeeze in another round of service before the new 11pm curfew. However, pubs, bars, and restaurants will only be allowed to serve alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Exercise and sporting activities are also affected, with outdoor grassroots sport (i.e. your village cricket team, community football club, etc) allowed regardless of tier, and gyms also allowed to reopen at all tiers. In Tier 2, up to 2000 fans will be allowed to attend outdoor sporting events, and up to 1000 for indoor events (with social distancing measures in place, of course).
Non-essential shops will be open all over the country, so any Christmas shopping plans are safe. And, finally, weddings and worship services will also be allowed to resume.
So, let’s do a quick recap of Bristol’s rules, shall we?
- No mixing with other households indoors, except for support bubbles.
- Outdoor gatherings of up to six are permitted under the “rule of six”.
- Pubs serving food are allowed to reopen, but “wet pubs” will have to close.
- Pubs, bars and restaurants will only be allowed to serve alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
- Last orders will be 10pm, but venues must close at 11pm.
- Outdoor grassroots sport and exercise classes are allowed.
- Gyms are allowed to reopen, regardless of tier.
- Non-essential shops will reopen all over the country.
- Salons (hairdressers, tattoo studios, etc) will be open.
- Up to 2000 fans (or 50% capacity, whichever is lower) can attend outdoor sporting events, and 1000 fans for indoor events.
- Weddings can take place with up to 15 guests, including a reception. Funerals can go ahead with up to 30 guests.
- We’re advised to travel as little as possible, and avoid Tier 3 areas except for things like work, education and medical visits.
- Overnight stays (staycations) are permitted, with members of your household or support bubble.
- Restrictions will be lifted across the UK for a five day period over Christmas, from December 23–27.