What the tougher Tier 3 rules could mean for Sheffield when lockdown lifts on December 2

As the Prime Minister is set to announce a new three-tier lockdown system when national restrictions end next month, here are what the rules could mean for Sheffield.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 11:11 am

The city was previously placed in Tier Three of the previous Covid-19 measures, which prevented different households from meeting in most outdoor settings such as private gardens and forced establishments to only serve alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal’.

Details of the coronavirus restrictions for England will be revealed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson later today.

The winter strategy will enter into force after the current national lockdown finishes on December 2 and will include a strengthened three-tier system of local restrictions.

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The Prime Minister is expected to make an announcement about the new three-tier lockdown system later today.

– What was the original three-tier system?

Sheffield was initially put in the ‘high’ second tier restrictions when the local lockdown levels were first announced in October, which stopped people from different households from meeting each other indoors in places such as restaurants or pubs.

The city was then escalated to the third level of restrictions, classed as ‘very high’ rules, where residents were restricted from socialising with people from outside their households in private gardens.

Restaurants and pubs were also only allowed to sell alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal’ forcing establishments which do not provide food, to close.

Across the country, coronavirus levels were split into three in the original tiered strategy, with areas in the first tier – medium alert – subject to the same national measures which were in force at the time across the country including a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.

Under the second tier – high alert – household mixing was banned indoors while the Rule of Six continued to apply outdoors.

Tier 3 – very high alert – banned social mixing both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars were told to close unless they could operate as a restaurant.

– So what is the Government planning?

The “Covid winter plan” is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control to ensure further restrictions are not needed, No 10 said.

And while some local measures will be the same as those in the previous system, some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown.

The plan will also outline out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, but ministers stressed some restrictions are expected to remain in place.

– How will this system be different?

More areas are expected to enter the higher end of the system, and restrictions in each of the areas are expected to be altered.

Under the old system, local leaders were to help determine whether venues such as gyms or casinos should be closed in very high alert level areas, and this may change in the new system.

Ministers will announce on Thursday which tier each area will enter.

– What rules will change?

It is understood pubs and restaurants will be allowed to stay open later than the 10pm curfew which previously existed.

The plans will mean that, while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks, with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.

There are reports suggesting that pubs will still have to serve a ‘substantial meal’ with any drinks and people must stay within their household groups.

It is understood that Mr Johnson will tell MPs that non-essential shops can open in all three tiers after the current restrictions expire on December 2, in a boost for retailers during the festive period.

However, pubs and restaurants will face the harshest of the new measures with businesses in the new Tier 3 only allowed to offer takeaways, while those in Tier 2 must serve food with any drinks, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The paper added cinemas will be allowed to reopen in England for places in Tier 1 and 2, and midnight mass and Christingle services will be permitted in all three tiers.

Appearing virtually in the Commons from his test and trace-ordered quarantine, Mr Johnson is to announce major rapid testing programmes for all areas forced into the highest tier of restrictions.

He will also set out a trial of the repeat testing of close contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid-19 to prevent them from having to isolate, having got his proposals signed off by his Cabinet on Sunday.

– How long will the new system last for?

The Government is optimistic that restrictions can be gradually reduced in the run-up to spring, providing vaccines are approved by regulators, allowing a plan for the rollout to begin next month before a wider programme in the new year.

But with no vaccines having been approved it is still not clear exactly when the rollout will be able to begin.

– Will England’s lockdown definitely end in December?

The Government has emphasised that it wants to see England exit its four-week lockdown on December 2.

This is its legal endpoint and any extension of the national lockdown would require a vote in Parliament.

– What is expected over Christmas?

Several households – potentially three – could be allowed to create a bubble temporarily between December 22 and 28, with the plans covering all four nations of the UK, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Restrictions on church services are also due to be lifted allowing Christmas Day services to be held, the paper said.

But while plans have not yet been set out, ministers have made clear that the festive season will be different to normal.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.