Sharply rising cases have put the capital on notice for Tier 3 measures.
Despite the UK becoming the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, and the first doses having been administered last week, there’s still plenty of cause for concern about the nation’s battle with Covid-19. Coronavirus infection rates are rising in much of the UK, with London seeing some of the biggest surges in case numbers. As a result, our city will be put into Tier 3 measures this week, with the move to tougher restrictions taking place at 00:01 on Wednesday, December 16.
England’s tier restrictions are due for review on Wednesday, but with the alarming rise in cases in the capital, the decision has been made to put London up a tier more quickly. The BBC reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been addressing London MPs this afternoon, and will confirm the move in the House of Commons at 3:30pm, ahead of a Downing Street briefing this evening. Parts of Essex (such as Thurrock, Southend-on-Sea, Braintree, and Chelmsford) and Hertfordshire (including Watford, Hertsmere, and Broxbourne) will also join London in Tier 3, owing to their own rising caseloads.
The news, whilst saddening, isn’t likely to come as much of a shock to Londoners – just last week, we’d been told that Tier 3 restrictions could be in place by Christmas as a result of the rising case numbers. In fact, it’s believed that cases in the capital have been doubling every seven days, which is a frightening rate of transmission. Here’s a quick refresher on the Tier 3 rules, which are the tightest restrictions of England’s three-tier system.
- Tier 3 prohibits mixing with other households indoors (excluding those in your support bubble)
- However, you can mix with other households in parks, beaches, the countryside, and such other public outdoor spaces. You are allowed to meet in groups of up to six, but you can’t meet in private gardens.
- Restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars must close – they will be able to serve takeaway and delivery only.
- No sports fans are allowed in stadiums (at Tier 2, up to 2000 fans had been permitted to attend), and indoor entertainment venues – bowling alleys, cinemas, and the like – must close.
- Non-essential shops and gyms can remain open.
Finally, the rules allowing three households to mix over Christmas will be remain unaffected by this latest change in regulations.
Speaking to Sky News before the move was confirmed, Sadiq Khan said that Tier 3 would be “catastrophic” for London, remarking that the government must “appreciate that it will be catastrophic to our hospitality industry, to our culture and to retail”. The Mayor also called for more support for businesses that must now close as a result of Tier 3 restrictions.
It’s a major blow for the capital, especially with Christmas in full swing, but until a combination of social distancing, hand washing, and a vaccine brings the pandemic under control, it’s just another challenge for us to surmount.
We’ll keep this article updated with more news as it arrives.
Also published on Medium.