No change for Somerset

The Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock addressed the House of Commons this lunchtime. In a keenly anticipated speech he outlined changes to the COVID 19 tier system. These changes will not effect the period between 23 and 27 December, when special Christmas arrangements apply.

There was no change for Somerset which remains in tier 2. This might have been disappointing for some. Herefordshire was moved back to tier 1, the level with fewest restrictions. Tthe level of infection in Somerset remains relatively low. However we have seen regular levels of new infections at a rate of around 500 a week. So in the end it was considered too early to move Somerset out of tier 2.

However there was better news for both North Somerset and Bristol. They have been moved from down from tier 3 to tier 2. To reiterate, as Somerset is in tier 2 this is what you can do:

Meeting indoors

You can only meet socially with friends and family indoors who you either:

  • live with
  • have formed a support bubble with

Unless a legal exemption applies.

‘Indoors’ means any indoor setting, including:

  • private homes
  • other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants

Meeting outdoors

You can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) outdoors, in a group of no more than 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.

‘Outdoors’ means in a private garden or other outdoor space.

You can continue to meet in a group larger than 6 if you are all from the same household or support bubble or another legal exemption applies.

Other activities, such as hobby groups, organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided that different households or support bubbles do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities should not go ahead. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing. 

Visiting venues, such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas and museums

Venues can host multiple groups and should follow COVID-secure guidance but you must not mix with anyone who is not part of your household or support bubble when you are indoors. 

This includes in:

  • pubs and restaurants
  • leisure and entertainment venues
  • personal care/close contact services
  • public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls

At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue, or each individual should check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.

Businesses and venues

All businesses and venues should follow COVID-secure guidance to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Business restrictions in Tier 2 areas include:

  • nightclubs and adult entertainment venues must remain closed
  • pubs and bars may not provide alcohol for consumption on the premises, unless with a substantial meal, so they are operating as a restaurant. They may remain open for take-away services
  • other hospitality businesses – including cafes, restaurants and  social clubs – can only serve alcohol with substantial meals. If they are a business which serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, they must be table service only. In cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadia, alcohol can be ordered at a bar to be consumed when seated in the  auditorium or area where the screening/performance is taking place. This should be limited to only those with tickets. When it is to be consumed in the bar area itself, it must be part of a substantial meal and full table service must be provided
  • hospitality venues that do not serve alcohol may allow someone to order from the counter, but they must still consume their meal from a seat if eating in
  • hospitality venues must stop taking orders after 10pm and must close between 11pm and 5am (with exceptions for airports, ports, the Folkestone international rail terminal, on public transport services and in motorway service areas, although these places cannot sell alcohol after 11pm)
  • hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm, such as by take-away. After 11pm, this must only be through delivery service or click-and-collect or drive-through.
  • businesses must not provide shared smoking equipment for use on the premises.
  • visitor attractions, entertainment businesses and venues may open but early closure (11pm) applies to the following:
    • casinos
    • theatres
    • museums
    • bowling alleys
    • adult gaming centres and amusement arcades
    • funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks and activities

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