What ARE the new Tier 4 rules?

Can I still see my mum on Boxing Day? Will the shops be open to buy gifts? Christmas is cancelled for millions after surge in super Covid strain…but what ARE the new Tier 4 rules?

  • New Tier 4 restrictions will hit those in London and the South East at midnight 
  • Tightened rules are similar to those implemented in the November lockdown 
  • Caused chaos to Christmas plans with Britons advised not to mix households

A third of Britons in England are set to face tougher coronavirus restrictions from midnight, including a ‘stay at home’ order which will chaos to Christmas plans.

The new Tier 4 restrictions will hit those in London and the South East just days before Boris Johnson’s five-day ‘Christmas bubble’ easing was set to begin on December 23.

Those in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Kent and Surrey – with the exception of Waverley – will be placed in the tightened restrictions, alongside Britons in Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

The rules will also apply to those living in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and large parts of Essex.

The updated restrictions are similar to those implemented in the November national lockdown, with non-essential shops closed and Britons urged to work from home if they can. 

However, the Tier 4 rules have caused chaos for many people’s festive plans after the Prime Minister announced ‘we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.’ 

In the new tier, Britons have been advised to not mix with anyone outside their own household over the holidays – with the five-day ‘bubble’ window cut to one day for the rest of England. 

Here, MailOnline looks at what the latest rules will mean for all regions under Tier 4 lockdown from Sunday: 

Can I still visit my family over Christmas?

No, those in Tier 4 areas cannot meet people indoors from outside their own households at Christmas. 

However, support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation over the festive period. 

Will I be able to see my friends on New Year’s Eve?

The Prime Minister has confirmed there will be no relaxation of the rules on December 31, ‘so people must not break the rules at New Year.’ 

Britons in Tier 4 must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with someone outside their household.    

Can I meet my friends and family in a park?

Yes, those in Tier 4 can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people they live with, their support bubble, or with one other person. 

The new Tier 4 restrictions will hit those in London and the South East just days before Boris Johnson’s five-day ‘Christmas bubble’ easing was set to begin on December 23. Pictured: Stock image

Will shops stay open for Christmas shopping?  

Non-essential shops including clothing stores, homeware stores, vehicle showrooms, betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops must close from Sunday.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and garden centres will remain open.      

Can I attend church over Christmas?  

Yes, those in Tier 4 can attend places of worship for a service. However, Britons must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.    

Can I travel outside my area to visit family and friends?

No, those living in London and the South East have been handed a stay at home order by the Prime Minister. Residents must not leave their home to travel unless for work, education, or other ‘legally permitted reasons.’  

Exceptions include travelling to work or for eduction and caring responsibilities. 

The public has also been told not to leave or enter a Tier 4 region, and residents from these areas must not stay overnight anywhere other than their own home.  

Can I still move home or look at a house in Tier 4?   

Yes, you can still move house. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

Is it OK to travel abroad? 

Those in Tier 4 must not travel abroad unless it is specifically permitted. Britons are also asked to consider the public health advice in the country they are visiting.

However, those living outside Tier 4 areas are still able to travel through these areas in order to leave the UK if necessary. 

Those in Tier 4 can attend places of worship for a service. However, Britons must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble. Pictured: Stock image

What about holidays in other parts of the UK? 

Advice states Tier 4 residents cannot leave home for holidays or stays overnight away from home except for in certain circumstances. 

This means that holidays in the UK are also not allowed, which includes staying in a second home or caravan – or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.

  • You can stay away from home in the following circumstances:
  • You are unable to return home
  • You need accommodation while moving house
  • You need accommodation to attend a funeral
  • For work purposes or to provide voluntary services
  • For children attending school
  • If you are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge

Will pubs and restaurants be open?

Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs will remain closed, with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway.   

How about gyms and swimming pools?

These will also remain closed in Tier 4, alongside indoor tennis and basketball courts, fitness and dance studios and climbing walls.   

Can I get my hair cut?  

No, hair beauty, tanning and nail salons will remain shut. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services will also close from Sunday.

It is also prohibited to provide these services in other people’s homes.

Non-essential shops including clothing stores, homeware stores, vehicle showrooms, betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops must close from Sunday. Pictured: Stock image

Will I be able to buy a Christmas tree?

Yes, Christmas tree retailers will remain open. 

Can I still go to work in the office?  

Yes, in some circumstances. The Prime Minister has asked everyone who can work effectively from home to do so.

However, where people cannot do so – including those in construction – can still travel to their workplace. 

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, can also continue to go into work.  

Can a tradesperson come into my home?  

Yes. Tradespeople, nannies and cleaners are still able to enter people’s homes to complete work.  

Will funeral services still go ahead?

Funerals must only take place in Covid-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

Services can be attended by up to 30 people. Commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings, can also continue with up to six people in attendance.

Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble. 

Pupils wear protective face masks on the first day back to school at Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster on September 2 as schools in England reopened to pupils following the lockdown

What about weddings?    

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies should not take place except in exceptional circumstances, for example where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. 

These weddings are limited to six people. 

Will schools reopen in January? 

Yes, schools and colleges will remain open during term time in Tier 4 areas. 

The Government will ‘continue to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young people’, advice from Downing Street said.

All secondary schools and colleges in England will be offered help, support and facilities to implement an additional round of free coronavirus testing from the first week of January.

This will be alongside a staggered return to face-to-face education in secondary schools, starting with exam years, vulnerable children and children of critical workers.   

Can I go back to University in the New Year? 

Students have been advised to limit movement between their permanent home and student home during term time.

However, guidance states those in higher education can meet in groups of more than their household as part of their formal education or training.

Universities were told to follow advice on reopening buildings to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.    

Can I still access childcare?

Yes, there are several ways that parents can continue to access childcare in Tier 4 areas – including nurseries and childminders remaining open.       

Can I still visit my doctor or dentist?

Yes, medical services such as GPs and dentists will continue as normal.  

What are the exceptions on people from different households gathering?  

  • For work, or providing voluntary or charitable services;
  • In a bubble for the purposes of childcare;
  • For registered childcare, or for supervised activities for children where this enables a parent to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for respite care;
  • Education or training – meaning education related to a formal curriculum or training that relates to work or obtaining work;
  • For arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians;
  • To allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care;
  • For prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them;
  • To provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm;
  • To see someone who is dying;
  • To fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service;
  • For gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres;
  • To provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer;
  • For a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances;
  • For funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to six;
  • To visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment;
  • For elite sportspeople to compete and train;
  • To facilitate a house move.

How long will these rules be in place?   

The rules will next be reviewed on December 30. 

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