When this period of national lockdown ends on Wednesday 2 December the government will re-introduce local restriction tiers.
These are different levels of restriction that will apply to different parts of the country, depending how prevalent coronavirus is and how rapidly it is spreading.
It’s similar to the system we had before, but the tiers have been strengthened in order to try and prevent the sharper increase in the rate of infections, which led to the second national lockdown.
There are three tiers of local restrictions, and the government has decided that Devon is in ‘Tier 2: High Alert’, subject to parliamentary approval.
We’ve put together some information about why that is and what it means we can and can’t do when lockdown ends on Wednesday 2 December.
Tier 2: High alert – what does that mean?
The government has decided that Devon will be under Tier 2 local restrictions when lockdown ends, subject to parliamentary approval.
It means that from Wednesday 2 December:
- You must not socialise with anyone indoors who is not in your household or part of your support bubble, at home or in a public space.
- If you are outside, you can meet in groups of up to six people from different households.
- Everyone who can work from home should do so.
- You should reduce the number of journeys you make, avoiding busy times and routes on public transport, and car sharing with those outside of your household or support bubble. Walk or cycle instead if possible.
- Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality
venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals. Venues must stop taking orders at 10.00pm and must close by 11.00pm.
- Some businesses such as non-essential retail, leisure and sports venues can reopen providing they are COVID-secure.
- You must continue to follow Tier 2 restrictions if you travel to a Tier 1 area. You should avoid travel to a Tier 3 area other than where necessary, for example for work, education, medical treatment or to carry out caring responsibilities.
Full details of Tier 2 restrictions are available on the government’s website.
Why is Devon in Tier 2: High Alert?
The national lockdown restrictions have helped bring coronavirus transmission back under control, slowed its spread and eased pressure on the NHS. But infection rates still vary across the country, so different approaches are needed for different regions.
When deciding which tier of restrictions should apply to which area, the government consider a number of factors.
These include how many people are testing positive for coronavirus across all age groups and, in particular, how many of those are over 60 years old and therefore more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
They also consider the rate at which cases are rising or falling in the area and the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of the total number of tests taken.
It’s also important to take into account the pressure on local NHS services, for example how many hospital beds are occupied and what the projected demand is likely to be over the coming weeks, as well as staff absences.
The tier allocations will be regularly reviewed by the government, the first being by Wednesday 16 December.
If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, an area may move to a lower tier.
You can read more about how tiering decisions are made on the government’s website.
What about Christmas?
The festive period is traditionally a time spent with family and friends, but this year we won’t be able to come together as we usually would.
The government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time over Christmas to allow people to celebrate over the holidays, but we must all continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable.
You can find out more about forming an exclusive Christmas bubble with no more than three households on the government’s website.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate) has warned that, even though restrictions will be relaxed a little, please remember that Christmas this year will not be normal. He said:
“It is really important that we continue to follow the measures that help keep us safe – social distancing, wearing face coverings when indoors in public spaces, and washing our hands properly and regularly.
“It’s a very, very high price to pay if we relax our guard during Christmas and into the New Year.
“I am sure that everyone would agree that we need to protect our loved ones, and particularly those who are most vulnerable.”