Christmas is going to be a lonely holiday for many this year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new, tightened restrictions just days before the festivities. The new Tier 4 rules look similar to the national lockdown in November. What are you allowed to do? Who can you celebrate with this Christmas?
What regions are in Tier 4?
Tier 4 restrictions include most of South East England. You will be in Tier 4 if you live in:
- Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
- London, including all 32 boroughs and the City of London
- Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford, and Tendring)
The rest of England is in the other tiers, with the authorities keeping an eye on the region’s R rates to monitor the situation. R rate is the rate at which the virus spreads within the population.
Who can I meet over Christmas?
For many, Christmas plans have gone out of the window. Those in Tier 4 can’t meet people indoors from outside of their own households over the holidays. You can’t have family or friends over for Christmas nor travel to meet them.
However, if you had a support bubble in place, you can spend time with the people in your support bubble. Support bubbles protect people living alone and allow two households to mix.
You can also meet people in your support bubble or one other person outdoors. You have to follow social distancing if you do so.
Elsewhere in England, you can only meet other households indoors on Christmas Day, rather than between 23 – 27 December, as was previously the plan.
Can I travel outside Tier 4?
The Prime Minister asked people living in Tier 4 to 'stay at home.' You shouldn't leave home to travel unless for work, education, or other 'legally permitted reasons'. The exceptions include caring responsibilities, for example. Your family also shouldn't travel to see you.
Those living in Tier 4 shouldn’t stay overnight away from home unless:
- You can’t return home
- You are moving home and need temporary accommodation
- You are attending a funeral
- You need to travel for work or to provide voluntary services
- You are homeless, seeking asylum, or you are a vulnerable person seeking refuge
Can I go to work?
If your Christmas holidays haven’t started yet, you still have to work as usual. The Prime Minister asked everyone who can work from home to do so. However, if you cannot work from home, you can travel to work.
Are shops open for Christmas shopping?
All non-essential shops in Tier 4 closed from Sunday onwards. Shops such as clothing stores, homeware stores, betting shops, electronic goods, and mobile phone shops shut their doors. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and garden centres remain open as usual. If you still need a Christmas tree, then you can buy one. Christmas tree retailers can operate as usual.
Can I visit pubs or restaurants?
Hospitality venues are also closed in Tier 4 regions. Cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs are closed. You can still order takeaway, as places that provide this service can continue to stay open as usual.
What if I need a tradesperson to enter my home?
Tradespeople can enter people’s home freely to complete work. If you have a cleaner booked, then they can still get around. You can also contact plumbers or other tradespeople if needed.
Can I visit my GP?
Medical services continue as usual. If you need to see a GP or a dentist, you can continue to do so.
Can I get a haircut or have my nails done for the holidays?
If you are thinking about brightening your day with a haircut this Christmas, you are out of luck. Hair beauty, tanning and nail salons cannot stay open and have closed in Tier 4. Services such as tattoo parlours, spas and massage parlous are unavailable. You should also note that you cannot invite your hairstylist over. The services shouldn’t be offered in private homes.
What about gyms and swimming pools?
Just like during the lockdown, you can go outside to exercise. However, gyms and leisure activity centres remain closed in Tier 4. Gyms, swimming pools, dance studios, indoor sports courts and fitness centres are closed.
Can I attend church or other places of worship over Christmas?
Places of worship stay open, and you can attend them over Christmas. You are not allowed to mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble if you do.
What are the rules regarding funeral services and weddings?
Funerals can go ahead but only in Covid-19 secure venues or public outdoor spaces. Services can have up to 30 people, and commemorative events can have up to six people. Social distancing should be maintained with anyone who is not part of your household or support bubble.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies should not take place in Tier 4. Certain exceptional circumstances apply.
When will the restrictions end?
The authorities will review the rules on December 30. If the situation has improved in Tier 4 regions, they could move to the other tiers. Alternatively, other areas might see restrictions tightened.
Can I meet people on New Year’s Eve?
Although the review date takes place right before New Year's Eve, you shouldn't take out your party hat. The Prime Minister has confirmed the rules won't relax on December 31. Britons in Tier 4 should not spend New Year's Eve with anyone outside their household, except for support bubbles.
What if I break the rules?
The police have the power to take action against you if you break the rules. You can receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for your first offence. Further offences can double the fine up to a maximum of £6,400.