Christmas calamity! It’s Tier 3 from Wednesday

The Government has today announced that after a sharp increase in coronavirus infections, the following areas will move into Tier 3 from midnight on Wednesday:

  • Basildon
  • Southend
  • Brentwood
  • Rochford
  • Castle Point
  • Thurrock
  • Braintree
  • Maldon
  • Chelmsford
  • Epping
  • Waltham Forest
  • Redbridge
  • Barking & Dagenham
  • All of London

Tier 3 is the highest level and comes with additional restrictions:

You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues

You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of 6’

Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training

Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. This includes:

  • indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play
  • casinos
  • bingo halls
  • bowling alleys
  • skating rinks
  • amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
  • laser quests and escape rooms
  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • snooker halls

Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close (indoor shops, through-ways and public toilets at such attractions can remain open). This includes indoor attractions within:

  • zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves
  • aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions
  • model villages
  • museums, galleries and sculpture parks
  • botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses
  • theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs
  • visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes
  • landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms

Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.

There should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators

Large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events

Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies

Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events

Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s

You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

Avoid travelling outside of your area, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey

For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care at Southend Council, says: “Whilst a move to tier three is going to disappoint and cause issues for many, we must acknowledge that rates and hospital admissions across south Essex and the wider area are increasing rapidly and so we understand why the Government has decided on this course of action.

“Combined with the increased testing capacity we saw rolled out this weekend, along with people adhering to these new restrictions, we believe we can arrest this rapid rate increase and get back into lower restrictions as soon as possible.

“So please do adhere to these restrictions and do your bit to keep yourself, your family and your community safe.”

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “We know the impact this will have on our hospitality industry, who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to keep their businesses COVID-secure and keep people safe. Their dedicated approach to this has helped keep rates relatively low in Southend-on-Sea until very recently.

“We will do all we can to support those businesses affected and lobby for and pass on any national funding we receive for that purpose quickly. We would also encourage local people to continue supporting the local hospitality industry by safely enjoying delivery, click and collect or by simply buying vouchers to be used in the future for example.

“Now is the time to adhere to the regulations but also shop local, shop safe and support local business as best we can.

“We will also continue to support the most vulnerable in our community, though existing measures like the essential living fund and our additional winter grant funding.

“Finally, please do adhere to the restrictions. Please also think carefully about who you are planning to mix with at Christmas as part of the Christmas bubble and whether that is the safest thing to do at the current time and whist rates in the local area are high, and rising.

“If you do plan to form a Christmas bubble, then please consider who you are mixing with now in advance of December 23.”

Leader of Essex County Council. Cllr David Finch said: “I am of course very disappointed with this news.

“We have worked tirelessly to reduce the spread of infection in our county, but unfortunately the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction, especially in those areas that the government have decided should move to tier 3.

“We know that for these areas, moving to Tier 3 will inevitably impact businesses, particularly in the hospitality trade at what would normally be their busiest time of the year.

“We will lobby the Government to ensure our Essex businesses have all the support they need, during this very challenging time.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]