Somerset to go to Tier 3
Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock has just released an updated position on COVID 19. In the light of rising cases, Somerset is to be placed in Tier 3 with effect from one minute past midnight on Boxing Day.
The changes are in part a response to the new strain of COVID 19 which has been spreading rapidly. Meanwhile Government has announced that a third strain has also been identified. This appears to have originated in South Africa. However at least two Britons have returned from South Africa with the new variant.
Government claim “The latest analysis shows a strong correlation between areas with the most rapid rise of cases and prevalence of the new strain of COVID-19. The government has decided to act ahead of the formal review point, in order to contain the spread of this new and more transmissible strain.“
Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset will also go to Tier 3. Neither Bath and North East Somerset nor Wiltshire have been changed. For now at least.
Tier 3 is what the government describe as “Very High Alert”. These following restrictions will apply:
You must not meet socially indoors with anybody you do not:
- live with
- have 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
You must not meet socially (in a private garden or at most outdoor public venues), with anybody you do not:
- live with
- have a support bubble with
- Unless a legal exemption applies.
However, you can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places, in a group of up to 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.
These outdoor public places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
- outdoor sports courts and facilities
- 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.
Support and childcare bubbles
There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles across all tiers. Support bubbles have been expanded. From 2 December you can form a support bubble with another household if you:
- are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living alone
- live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
- live with child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
- live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability
- You may need to change your support bubble if your circumstances change. Find out more about changing your support bubble.
Businesses and Venues
As well as specific exemptions set out below, any closed business can remain open for:
- providing essential voluntary services or urgent public support services, including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions, support in an emergency
- for the making of a film, television programme, audio programme or audio-visual advertisement
- for the purpose of voting or related activities
Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha bars), pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or member’s clubs. Exemptions apply for the following settings:
Cafes and canteens at:
- hospitals, care homes, or supported housing as part of extra care schemes
- schools and providers of post-16 education and training, such as further education colleges
- higher education accommodation, and at higher education providers (where there is no practical alternative for staff and students to obtain food and where alcohol is not served for consumption on the premises)
- criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
- naval/military/air force or MoD facilities
- workplace canteens (where there is no practical alternative and where alcohol is not served for consumption on the premises)
Businesses and venues selling alcohol for consumption off the premises can continue to do so as long as this is through takeaway, delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
Food or alcohol purchased from a hospitality premises via takeaway or click-and-collect may not be consumed on any part of that premises, including beer gardens, as well as adjacent seating to the premises (with exceptions for motorway service areas, airports, seaports, the international terminal at Folkestone and public transport services although these places cannot sell alcohol after 11pm).
Businesses must not provide shared smoking equipment for use on the premises.
Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses must close. These premises can only open for a person, who:
- is unable to return to their main residence
- uses it as their main residence
- needs it while moving house
- needs it to attend a funeral, linked commemorative event or following a bereavement of a close family member or friend
- is isolating themselves from others as required by law
- is an elite athlete (or their coach) and needs it for training or competition
- needs it for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable service
- was staying there immediately before the area entered Tier 3
- needs it to attend education or training
- is a carer for someone they live with and is seeking respite
- needs to attend a medical appointment or treatment
They can also open:
- to enable voting, including an overseas election
- as a women’s refuge or a vulnerable person’s refuge
- for any purpose requested by the Secretary of State, or a local authority
Businesses that remain open in law, but are located within accommodation, such as a spa within a hotel, can remain open.
Closed entertainment and visitor attractions
The following entertainment and tourist venues must close:
- indoor play centres and areas, including inflatable parks and soft play centres and areas (other than for people who have a disability)
- trampolining parks (other than for elite athletes, people with a disability, supervised activities for children and for formal education or training purposes)
- bingo halls
- bowling alleys
- indoor skating rinks (other than for elite athletes, professional dancers and choreographers, people with a disability, supervised activities for children and for formal education or training purposes)
- amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
- nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
- laser quests and escape rooms
- cinemas, theatres concert halls – other than drive-in events, broadcasting performances, training or rehearsal
- snooker and pool halls (other than for elite athletes)