People wearing face masks walk through Oxford Circus in London, England on October 16, 2020.
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LONDON – The UK capital is about to transition to the country’s highest coronavirus restrictions as cases continue to rise ahead of the holiday season.
On Monday, the government announced that London, a city of around 9 million people, and the surrounding area would move to Tier 3 “very high” alert.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the move in Parliament, saying that a new variant of the virus had been identified that “could be linked” to the faster spread of infections in south-east England.
Starting Wednesday, pubs, cafes, and restaurants must close unless they offer take-out or delivery services, and entertainment and indoor entertainment venues, including theaters and cinemas, must be closed.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest London Tier 3 restrictions:
When will London get into Tier 3?
Tier 3 restrictions will apply in London, Essex and parts of Hertfordshire from early Wednesday, December 16 – 12:01 a.m. local time to be precise.
Which areas are exactly in Tier 3?
- All 32 London boroughs and the City of London (a central financial district that is governed differently).
- In Essex: Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree, Chelmsford – and the two unified authorities Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.
- In Hertfordshire: Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and Three Rivers.
Why is London getting into Tier 3?
London is entering Tier 3 due to an increase in cases in the capital and its surrounding areas. In some districts of the capital, the number of cases rose over 40% in the week leading up to December 9, and in parts of nearby Essex the number of infections rose as much as 78%.
“The weekly fall rate in London of 225 per 100,000 is already the highest regional rate in the country,” the government said in a statement on Monday.
Nationwide, the UK is still in a second wave of infections, and there are different restrictions across the country. Another 20,263 cases were reported in the UK on Monday, and 232 more deaths from the virus, according to government data.
In the past seven days, 131,708 more cases were reported, an increase of around 22% over the previous seven days. This shows that the infection rate is still high and has increased. However, the UK has started rolling out a coronavirus vaccine which will hopefully curb the transmission of the virus as well as infection.
How long will London be in Tier 3?
It is not known how long the city will stay in Tier 3. Much will depend on the infection rate over the next few weeks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said the Tier system would be reviewed and reviewed every 14 days, meaning December 30th would be the time for the next review.
A five-day easing of restrictions is planned for the Christmas season, December 23-27, which will allow families to mix only to a limited extent (ie three households will be allowed to “bubble” over those five days). There are warnings from scientists and two leading medical journals on Tuesday that the relaxation phase should be canceled in light of the infection rate, but no official decision has been made on this yet.
Commuters walk the Thames Path with a view of Tower Bridge in London, UK on Monday 14 December 2020.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Can I travel abroad in Tier 3?
The government council states that you should avoid traveling outside of your area if you live in a tier 3 area. This applies to international and domestic travel, but is not a legal restriction.
Can I play golf in Tier 3?
Golf courses are allowed to remain open in Tier 3 areas, and other outdoor sports such as tennis are still allowed. However, there are limits to social gatherings at sports facilities.
For example, golf course hospitality is closed in tier 3 areas, although they are still allowed to take away.
You can participate in organized sports and outdoor physical activities with any number of people. “However, you should avoid contact during exercise and some sports, avoid contact during all activities,” the government said. Gyms and sports facilities will remain open for individual exercise, but indoor group activities and exercise classes should not be held, the government said.
Can I stay in a Tier 3 hotel?
Can I move to Tier 3?
The property market in England will remain open on all three levels, the government says. “This means that people who want to move home can both continue with planned moves and see new properties to move into in the future. Real estate and rental agents, removers, appraisers and employees in sales and rental offices and showrooms can this keep working, “it added.