United Kingdom

Coronavirus UK: What the new tiers mean for London and Manchester

As England began life under a new tiered system of coronavirus restrictions following the second national lockdown, there were many similarities across the country with non-essential shops and gyms reopening.

But other scenes were also very different, with London - in Tier 2 - seeing bargain hunters swarming through Debenhams on Oxford Street for discounts and people enjoying a pint with a 'substantial meal' in pubs.

However in Manchester, which is in Tier 3, the pubs remain shut apart from takeaway and shoppers who headed out this morning claimed little had changed - despite some waking up at 5am to get the bus in to go to Primark.

Most pubs in the country will face hampered trade from the measures. Those in Tier 2 can only serve alcohol alongside a 'substantial meal' and must obey rules restricting household mixing indoors.

The tiers will be reviewed every fortnight, with the first one due on December 17, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised MPs a fresh vote on whether to keep the system before February 2. 

Here is the situation in London (Tier 2) and Manchester (Tier 3) as Britons got used to the new rules:

TIER 2 -  HIGH ALERT - LONDON

In London today, within minutes of Debenhams reopening its flagship store on Oxford Street at 10am, hundreds of shoppers had packed into it, swarming across all four floors where stock was selling at up to 50 per cent off.

As people wearing masks jostled to get into the store's main entrance, social distancing was largely ignored. Earlier, shoppers today told of their relief at being released from lockdown as they queued waiting for it to open. 

Shoppers queue to get into Debenhams on Oxford Street in London this morning with the chain in severe financial trouble

Outside Debenhams on Oxford Street today, Jean Collier (left), 66, from Islington, North London, said: 'It's so nice to be able to go shopping. It's the first time I've been out'. Victoria Adams, from Paddington said: 'I really hope I can get some bargains'

Shoppers fail to follow social distancing guidelines as they queue outside a JD Sports shop on Oxford Street in London today

Customers enjoy drinks outside a pub in London today, in Tier 2 where people from different households can eat outdoors

Dovile (left) and Ewelina (right) went shopping on Oxford Street today and picked up some items at Debenhams

Standing outside the Debenhams store, three women told how they hoped to bag bargains. Jean Collier, 66, from Islington, North London, said: 'It's so nice to be able to go shopping. It's the first time I've been out.

'This is the start of my Christmas shopping. I hope to get some bargains - perfume, underwear - I'll have to see what's there. I'm just pleased to be out shopping!'

Healthcare worker Victoria Adams, from Paddington, West London, said: 'I really hope I can get some bargains. I'm looking for perfume, cooking pots, whatever is at a good price.'

Trade unionist Laura took the day off work to be among the first to get into Debenhams. The 34-year-old mother from Southwark, London, said: 'To be honest this is the first time I've been out since the first lockdown.

'My son has been to school but I've just been at home. I've been working from home for months. It's great to get out. I want to get a gift for my dad for Christmas.' 

In Ealing, West London, barber shops and hairdressers were doing a particularly roaring trade from early morning following the lifting of the second lockdown.

Mehmet Kantdacl, 49 who runs Michelle Barbers with his son Umut, said: 'The past month has been terrible. We've been sitting at home doing nothing and we're delighted that we can open again. 

Shoppers wait outside Debenhams on Oxford Street in London this morning as the store prepares to reopen

Customers enjoy drinks outside a restaurant in in London today following the end of the four-week national lockdown

Mehmet Kantdacl, 49, who runs Michelle Barbers in Ealing, West London, was doing a roaring trade from early morning today

Passengers at Victoria station travel on the London Underground this morning after the four-week lockdown ended

A bus travels through Oxford Circus in London this morning as the capital begins life in tier two of the coronavirus rules

'We've been busy since we opened at 8am and are expecting a very busy week. People have been desperate to get their hair cut, they've been waiting for this day for a month and it's an honour to make them look good again.'

To mark the end of the second lockdown, Mr Kantdacl was handing out tea and Turkish sweets to his customers.

Umut, 25, added: 'We've lost a lot of money and even though we have received some financial assistance, it's not been enough. I'm just praying that we won't have to close again and that there won't be another lockdown.' 

Frank Thomas, one of the first customers through the door said: 'My hair has been a complete mess and I couldn't wait to get here. My wife gave me cut during the lockdown, but she didn't do a very good job. I'm really relieved that a proper barber can now sort it out.' 

At the neighbouring Orange Chat hair salon, stylist Amber said: 'We're fully booked up for the whole day. We haven't even got time for a chat we're that busy. But it's great to be back.'

Café owners in Ealing also expressed relief, claiming that the second lockdown had hit them harder financially than the first one. 

A man enjoys a pint of Guinness with a full English breakfast at The Coronet pub in Holloway, North London, this morning

Early morning swimmers during sunrise this morning at Charlton Lido in Hornfair Park, South East London

Commuters cross London Bridge this morning following the end of England's second national lockdown 

People use the treadmills in one of the gym areas at Kensington Leisure Centre in West London this morning after it reopened

Grish Gregorian, 60, owner of Café Florentine beamed: 'I'm glad that we are open again. After the dark there's a bit of light. It's wonderful to see people in the café again.'

He revealed that despite being open for takeaways over the past month, business became so bad that he closed down all together for 11 days.

He added: 'Some days I was barely making £100 from takeaways so it just didn't make sense to stay open. Today is the first day that I'm opening properly. It's been very hard, particularly the second lockdown.'

He added: 'I'm out of pocket and have a lost a lot of money. I'm praying that we never have to go through another lockdown.'

Customer Raju Sailopal, 49 said: 'It feels great to be able to sit in the café again and enjoy some food and drink. It's been a tough time for everybody and let's hope we are over the worst of it.'

At the Pavilion café, owner Aben said: 'It's nice to have the business fully up and running again. It's not been too busy but that's OK. I'm just relieved that people now have the opportunity to sit here and enjoy our wonderful food.'

TIER 3 - VERY HIGH ALERT - MANCHESTER 

Further north, as lockdown lifted in Manchester and the city went straight into Tier 3, people could only enjoy the shops and bookmakers while cafes, pubs and restaurants remained closed. 

Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter was empty today with bars, pubs and restaurants shut. The Millstone boozer was among those closed. 

Dance student Erin Kelly (left), 18, told MailOnline in Manchester: 'It's nice to be able to go back into the shops but it doesn't feel much different'. Cleaner Janet Oluwole (right), 66, said she got up at 5am to catch the bus into the city centre

Covid marshalls for Manchester Council manage a queue for a Foot Locker store in the city centre this morning

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed cafe in the city centre after Manchester enters Tier 3 this afternoon

People queue outside a TK Maxx in Manchester city centre this morning, following the end of the second national lockdown

Regular Jim Holmes, 34, said: 'I'm guttered, it's not open when most of the country can enjoy a pint. It feels like we've been in restrictions for ever. 

'I'm so jealous of people in other places who can just go into the pub which I think are safe. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine. Hopefully more things will be open in a few weeks.'

Some cafes were offering takeaways including Cali Cafe. Builder Mike Hughes, 27, said: 'At least we can get a cuppa but it would be nice to sit in from the rain. Things don't feel that different with so many things closed.'

Shops in the city were slowly opening but there were few queues as the rain continued to fall.  

Of the few people on the city's Market Street, many said the new rules meant little had changed. Dance student Erin Kelly, 18, told MailOnline: 'It's nice to be able to go back into the shops but it doesn't feel much different. 

'The pubs and a lot of cafes are closed so you can't really go out and about much. I think a lot of people are tired of the restrictions. We feel like we have been in them for ages.

Customers in the 'Barber Barber' barbers get their hair cut in Manchester city centre this morning

Shoppers make the most of non-essential retail reopening in Manchester city centre this morning

Covid marshalls monitor the queues outside a Foot Locker store in Manchester city centre this morning

'I live at home still but a lot of my uni friends are sick of not being able to go out and about and see other people. It all very quiet. It's not what you want with Christmas coming up.'

Some shoppers woke up early to take advantage of the end of lockdown. Cleaner Janet Oluwole, 66, got up at 5am to catch the bus into town. She said: 'The bus was a bit busy but it does feel really quiet.

'I have just been to Primark to buy a £1 T-shirt and I want to do some more Christmas shopping. It feels great to be out of the house and to be able to go into a shop.'

Admin worker Lucy Szoltysek, 19, had been into Primark to do some Christmas shopping with her mother Ann. She said: 'I have go some pyjamas and other things. It's fantastic to be able to get inside a shop. I've really missed it. It just a shame we can't go into a cafe or anything.'

Some cafes were doing takeaways while Betfred bookmakers had just a handful of customers. Covid-19 marshalls intervened outside Foot Locker when people queuing were not social distancing. They would not let the shop open until people stood back.

Retired cinema worker Ray Millington, 69, bemoaned the pubs not opening in the city. The former merchant seaman said: 'It's a real shame but it can't be helped especially with the infections rates here. But I would to go and have a pint especially during the Christmas period.' 

TIER 1 - MEDIUM ALERT - ISLE OF WIGHT 

Residents and businesses on the Isle of Wight were today making the most of their first day out of lockdown as one of the few areas of Britain to enjoy Tier One status.

The main town of Newport was bustling as cafe goers and shoppers returned to take full advantage of their new found freedom.

By 10am the family run Caffe Isola coffee shop was packed, with seats hard to come by as customers came in for breakfast, cakes and hot drinks.

Customer Alison Killick said it was 'lovely' to be able to sit and enjoy a coffee again, and also has plans to go for dinner with a friend this evening.

The 51 year old assistant town clerk, from the Island village of Lake, said: 'It's amazing. I came here this morning and it just feels normal again. I thought it would be too busy, but I love being able to do this again.

Alison Killick, 51, visits Caffe Isola to enjoy a morning cup of tea today in Newport, the main town on the Isle of Wight

Stefabue Burgess, 38, and Dan Burgess, 43, two members of the family that own Caffe Isola in Newport on the Isle of Wight

'I just hope we won't go back to tier two. Christmas will hopefully bring that freedom for all families across the country. Cases may increase on the island, but it feels great to be here.'

Steve French, 61, from nearby Wootton Bridge, who was enjoying a coffee in the cafe, said it was easier to follow guidelines on the island. 

He said: 'I wouldn't say it was well deserved, but we are a small island and our figures are low. The demographic of the island allows us to be more careful, as most of us live in reasonable detachment from other people.

'I could have told you the parts of the country country that would be in tier three, because if you have a higher density of people you are going to have a problem.'

Charlie Craig studies music business at university in Leeds, but is happy to be at home for the time being. He popped in to the cafe for a coffee and to do some work on his laptop.

An employee at Caffe Isola preparing an order for a customer at the cafe in Newport on the Isle of Wight today

Charlie Craig, 20, enjoys a morning coffee at Caffe Isola. He said: 'I came from Leeds where we are in tier three just before lockdown. I'm so happy to be able to work in a cafe again with the background noises of other people'

The 20 year old, from Shanklin, said: 'I came from Leeds where we are in tier three just before lockdown. I'm so happy to be able to work in a cafe again with the background noises of other people.

'I'm looking forward to going to the pub with my friends, but we won't go as much. We are planning to do more garden drinks because the pubs will be rammed, so we'll just sit outside next to the heaters.'

Isola co-owner Stefanie Burgess said: 'We were all a bit apprehensive in the lead up to the tier announcement, but now we are relieved.

'I believe our tier-one status is well deserved, as throughout the whole of the year we have all been very careful. We can't just grind to a halt - we have to manage the economy, jobs and businesses.

'Of course we have some sympathy for the mainland. It's very unfortunate that they aren't also in tier one, and we wish them well.'

Shoppers back on the High Street in Newport, Isle of Wight, this morning after the second national lockdown ende

Charlie Way (left) receives a coffee from Lucy Jackson in Newport on the Isle of Wight today, which has gone into Tier 1

Shoppers walk along the High Street in Newport on the Isle of Wight this morning after the second national lockdown ended

Mrs Burgess owns the business - which also boasts its own coffee brand, Island Roasted - with 5 other family members, including her brother in law and the main owner Dan Burgess.

The mother of two, 38, added that though there is a risk of tourists bringing the virus across, they are essential to local businesses.

She said: 'Without people coming over and using the ferries, we would struggle. There has been lots of things on social media about booze cruises, and we are furious about that.

'I hope that's some kind of joke, and people don't think 'the Isle of Wight is tier one, so lets go over there - it's safe'. They need to think about where they are coming from as well.

'We have had lots of people in so far this morning, and we're hoping this will be one of our busiest Decembers yet, having lost five months of revenue this year.'

The Bristol suburb split by Covid rules: Villagers blast 'ludicrous' restrictions as half live in Tier 2 while the rest are forced into Tier 3 with pubs and restaurants staying shut 

Residents in a suburb of Bristol have slammed the 'absolutely ridiculous' and 'ludicrous' tier system which has seen their hometown split across Tier 2 and Tier 3.

Residents in one half of Whitchurch face one set of coronavirus restrictions, while the other falls under the jurisdiction of another council, so has fewer curbs.  

The side of Whitchurch near Bristol falls under the remit of Bristol City Council which begins life in the harshest Tier 3 of the Government's coronavirus restrictions today.

But the other half, known as Whitchurch Village, is in Tier 2 as it is in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council's area. 

Business owner Rosa Consiglio, who runs Caffe Rosa (pictured), lives on one side of the invisible border and works on the other, after Whitchurch was split across two different levels of coronavirus restrictions

Locals have branded the situation as 'really odd' as some businesses in Whitchurch will have to remains closed, while others will be able to open up again now the national lockdown has come to an end. 

The invisible border has not only created confusion but has presented difficultures for business owners, including one cafe owner who works on one side and lives on the other. 

'I think it's absolutely ridiculous,' said Rosa Consiglio, as she shut up her Caffe Rosa on the Gilda Parade, the main run of shops in Whitchurch, which falls into the Tier 3 area. 

Ms Consiglio and her team will only be able to open for takeaways.

But Ms Consiglio lives in nearby Saltford, over the border in Bath and North East Somerset, so while she might be able to go for an after-work meal at the Maes Knoll, her staff who live in Bristol cannot join her.

Office workers in the cafe's neighbouring estate agent also face a similar situation as they live in Bristol.

'I think I might even be allowed to go to the rugby in Bath on Saturday,' said Ms Consiglio.

'But I can't open up my cafe here? I couldn't come to have a meal here on my day off? It's just ludicrous.

'Why haven't they thought this through at all? How does coronavirus know the difference between that pub over there and this cafe or that pub over here? 

'This is the busiest time of the year for us as well, normally there's lots of people out and about.

Pubs and restaurants like The Yeomans pub (pictured) face different rules to rival busineses around 750m down the road. The pub will remain closed

The Maes Knoll pub, a popular Toby Carvery on the Bath and North East Somerset side of the border, is on the Tier 2 side so will be able to reopen to serve food and drink to customers

'It's particularly ridiculous because we don't sell alcohol in the cafe here, so they can't say anyone is going to get drunk and get too close.

This is really badly affecting us, and all small businesses, small cafes and restaurants,' she added. 

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are all in the higher Tier 3 band of restrictions. 

The Yeomans pub on the Bristol side of the border with Bath and North East Somerset will remain closed. 

A total of 716 metres further south down the A37 is the Maes Knoll pub, a popular Toby Carvery on the Bath and North East Somerset side of the border.

The pub is on the Tier 2 side of the border so will be able to reopen to serve food and drink to customers. 

The landlord has prepared for their reopening on Wednesday by hanging Christmas decorations. 

Similar scenes have been seen in other areas of the UK, including in the 1,600-populated village of Groombridge, Kent. 

The Junction Inn and the Crown Inn are on the border between East Sussex and Kent and fall under different tiers of coronavirus restrictions and face very different futures.  

Kent's Crown Inn will have to remain shut at huge economic cost now the national lockdown is lifted by 430 yards down the road in East Sussex, The Junction Inn will be able to throw open its doors to serve a substantial meal with drinks.

Aside from pubs, the Whitchurch divide will also cause difficulty for neighbours and customers who have to be cautious about crossing the invisible border.   

Under the Government's Tier restrictions, people living in Tier 3 take their tier with them if they were ever to travel outside that area.

So walking over the border to the Maes Knoll doesn't mean people from Bristol can go there - they would be breaching coronavirus guidelines if they did.

Quite how that's going to be enforced, if at all, remains to be seen, and left people in Whitchurch baffled. 

The border creates two different sets of rules for pubs, restaurants and cafes either side of the line in Whitchurch and all along the edge of the Tier 3 area. 

'It creates some really odd situations,' said Jane, who lives in Keynsham.

'My daughter lives in Bristol, so can't come out with us for Sunday lunch on Sunday in Keynsham.

'But if she worked at the pub, she could serve us - but not join us at the end of her shift. 

'It just feels like it's getting a bit ridiculous now,' she added.  

The town is at the meeting point for four different statistical areas the Department for Health and Social Care use to measure the number of coronavirus cases.

To the north east is Stockwood where 38 people had contracted coronavirus in the seven days to November 25, giving that part of Bristol a case rate of 264 cases per 100,000.

Similar scenes have been seen in other areas of the UK, including in the 1,600-populated village of Groombridge, Kent. The Crown Inn will have to remain shut due to it being in Tier 3 restrictions

But only a short distance away, but across the border in East Sussex, The Junction Inn will be able to throw open its doors to serve a substantial meal with drinks as it is in Tier 2

To the north was Hengrove, where 44 new cases in seven days gave that suburb one of the highest covid rates in the country, of 486.

To the west is the large estate of Whitchurch Park, which has a case rate of 264, from 18 cases.

But the last bit of Whitchurch that is in North East Somerset, is part of an area where cases are very low.

Only four people contracted coronavirus in this corner of BANES, and the case rate of just 59 is particularly low compared to case numbers in Bristol.   

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said yesterday: 'Wherever you move, you take your tier with you. 

'So if you're tier 3, and you go to a tier 2 [area], you are still required to behave in a tier 3 way.

'And if you come from tier 2 to tier 3, you clearly behave in tier 3. So you've got to move up in the restrictions whichever you go.

'But people will move. We need to go along with the guidance we've been given, which is engaging in Covid-safe behaviours and, obviously we're working to put Covid-safe environments in place.

'We hope that by going along with the guidance, we will find that pathway out of that tier 3 so that we can support our businesses again, get life moving, support humans to come into more contact with each other again in a safe way,' he added. 

The Tier system is due to be reviewed in two weeks.

What do the new Tier restrictions mean for me, how do I have a pint and where can I see my friends and family? Vital Q&A as England's lockdown ends today

Almost all parts of England started life today under new coronavirus curbs with a ban on households mixing indoors and restrictions on hospitality.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West have been put in the most restrictive tier three, but London and much of the South are in tier two.

Some 23.3million people are under the most stringent restrictions, while 32million people are in the second tier after the national lockdown finished at midnight.

In tier two, the restrictions mean a ban on households mixing indoors and pubs, and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a 'substantial meal'.

Tier three measures mean a ban on households mixing, except in limited circumstances such as parks, with restaurants limited to takeaway or delivery.

Here, MailOnline answers some of the key questions about the new system, which has slightly different rules to the tiers imposed before the second lockdown:  

How do I find out what tier I'm in?

The Government launched a postcode checker here. It initially experienced technical problems and was removed last week, but is now back up and running.

You can also scroll down for our list of what areas are in tier two and three. The only areas in tier one are Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly.

When did the restrictions take effect?

The national lockdown for England ended at 00.01am this morning, with the new tier restrictions coming into effect at that point. 

How often will the tier placings be reviewed?

The tiers will be reviewed every two weeks, with the first review coming up on December 16. 

The new tiers will go be announced on the following day, December 17, and take effect on December 19, which is the last Saturday before Christmas.

TIER 2 - HIGH ALERT

What does 'tier two' mean?

This means the area is on a 'high alert' for coronavirus, with the Government saying it shows it has a 'higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place'.

Can I see my friends or family indoors?

No, unless they are in your household. You cannot socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

Can I see my friends and family outdoors, including in gardens? 

Yes, with restrictions. You cannot socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or a public space. This is called the 'rule of six'.

Can I go the pub?

Yes, with restrictions. You can only inside a pub with your own household, and they are only allowed to serve alcohol with 'substantial meals'.

You can go outside a pub with members of other households within the 'rule of six', but the same rules apply regarding alcohol.

What is a substantial meal?

There has been some doubt over the exact definition, with Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggesting last month that a Cornish pasty would only fall within the rules if it came on a plate with a salad or chips.

The widely-accepted definition is that it must be a proper meal, rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks.

Can I go to a restaurant?

Yes, with the same restrictions as above regarding where you can sit with members of other households. 

Can I go up to the bar at a pub or restaurant?

No. Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol. 

Are nightclubs reopening?

No, nightclubs still remain closed by law. 

Is the curfew on pubs and restaurants still in place?

Yes, but it has been put back an hour. Now, hospitality venues serving alcohol must close between 11pm and 5am, and stop taking orders after 10pm.

Are there exemptions to the curfew? 

Yes, hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are all exempt from the curfew.

Can you still get a takeaway after 10pm?

Yes. Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.

Are other businesses also under the curfew?

Yes, the 11pm closure applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and bingo halls. 

Are there exemptions for cinemas and theatres with late shows?

Yes. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm.

Are there new capacity rules on audiences at events?

Yes. Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Can I go to watch live sport?

Yes. Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.

Can I go to church?

Yes. Places of worship will be open but you cannot socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies.

Are weddings back on?

Yes. Weddings can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Are funerals still permitted?

Yes. Now 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.

Can organised sport continue?

Yes. Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue.

What about organised indoor sport?

Yes, with restrictions. Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). 

There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.

Will gyms be open?

Yes.

Are there restrictions on travel?

Yes. The Government says you can travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should 'aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible'.

Do the rules change if you travel to a tier one area?

No. If you live in a tier two area, you must continue to follow tier two rules when you travel to a tier one area. 

What about if you go to a tier three area?

The Government advises people to avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier three areas 'other than where necessary', such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.

It adds that people can travel through a tier three area as a part of a longer journey.

If moving between tiers, which rules do you follow?

You must follow the rules of the tier you are in, or the tier you are visiting - whichever is higher. 

Can you go abroad?

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

What areas are in tier two?

Here is a full list of the areas in tier two, according to the Government website. 

East of England

London

South East

North West 

South West

East Midlands 

TIER 3 - VERY HIGH ALERT

What does 'tier three' mean? 

This is a 'very high' alert level - the highest of the three-tier system - for areas with a very high or very rapidly rising level of infections, where tighter restrictions are in place. 

Can I see my friends or family indoors? 

No, unless they are in the same household. The rules for this are the same in tier two.

Can I see my friends and family outdoors?

Yes, but not in private gardens. You can only socialise in groups of up to six people in 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.

Can I go the pub or restaurant?

No. These all have to shut under law, except for takeaway. 

Can I get a takeaway?

Yes. Hospitality settings, such as pubs, cafes and restaurants are allowed to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Can I stay in a hotel?

No. 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'.

What venues have to stay shut?

The majority of entertainment and tourist venues must close, including:

Can indoor attractions at outdoor venues stay open?

No. Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close, although indoor shops, through-ways and public toilets at such attractions can remain open. 

This includes indoor attractions within: 

Can leisure and sports facilities stay open?

Yes, with restrictions. Group exercise classes including fitness and dance should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should also close.

Can I attend a live sports event?

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

Can large outdoor events take place?

No. The likes of performances and shows should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events.

Can I still go to church?

Yes. 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

Can a wedding take place? 

Yes. weddings can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend the ceremonies, and receptions are not allowed.

Can I go to a funeral?

Yes. Thirty people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events

Can organised outdoor sport take place?

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

Can indoor sport take place?

No. 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.

Can I still travel to places? 

Yes. 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'.

Can I go on holiday to other parts of Britain?

No. You should 'avoid travelling to other parts of the UK', including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. However, you can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Can I go abroad?

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

What areas are in tier three?

Here is a full list of the areas in tier three, according to the Government website. 

North West

South East

South West

West Midlands

Yorkshire and The Humber

GATHERING EXEMPTIONS FOR ALL TIERS 

Are there exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers?

Yes, the following exemptions to the 'rule of six' apply below: 

  • as part of a single household, or a support bubble
  • for work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people's homes
  • for childcare, education or training – meaning education and training provided as part of a formal curriculum
  • for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after-school childcare), groups and activities for under 18s, and children's playgroups
  • for formal support groups, and parent and child groups – up to 15 people aged 5 and older
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for birth partners
  • to attend a funeral – with no more than 30 people present – or a commemorative event such as a wake for someone who has died – with no more than 15 people present
  • to see someone who is terminally ill or at the end of life
  • to attend a wedding or civil partnership – with no more than 15 people present
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable or to provide respite for a carer
  • to facilitate moving home

CHRISTMAS 

As Britons plan their festive travel and look forward to spending time with their families after months apart, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas for many.

But questions remain over how busy trains will be and whether the roads will be jammed over the period when three households can bubble next month. 

People will be travelling across the country to be with their loved ones from December 23 to 27, with many having to decide which side of the family to visit.

And the roads and rails are therefore likely to be congested amid concerns of overcrowding and huge queues if everyone hits the network at the same time. 

The Department for Transport has appointed a Christmas travel tsar who will scrutinise whether rail, air and road networks are prepared for the surge in travel.

Meanwhile new guidance on Santa's Grottos, carol singing and nativity plays has also revealed what to expect in the run up to Christmas in the coming weeks.

Here, MailOnline looks at the key questions from Christmas carols to train tickets, and from roadworks to Christmas bubbles: 

CHRISTMAS SERVICES, CAROLS AND GROTTOS 

Will carol singers be allowed this year?

Yes. Door-to-door carol singing can happen, but only in groups of six and while keeping at least two metres away from 'the threshold of any dwellings'.

Participants are also expected to follow social distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone who is not from the same household.

Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, said the news that people can come together to sing outdoors over the festive season 'will bring comfort and joy to many'.

This type of carol singing will not be allowed - participants must stand at least two metres from each other in groups of up to six. They must also stand at least two metres away from homes

Can you sing carols in church?

No, unless you are in a choir. Government guidance, published on Sunday to cover the Christmas period, allows indoor singing when England's national lockdown ends on Wednesday, but only by choirs and with no audience participation.

Indoor singing by professional and amateur choirs can take place according to the particular area's tier, but audiences or congregations are not to join in 'any activity that can create aerosols, including singing, shouting and chanting'.

Those activities are known to increase the risk of virus transmission. For indoor choirs, the maximum number of people present 'should take into account the area of the space and the requirement to maintain two-metre social distancing at all times'. 

Will normal church services resume again? 

Yes. Church services can take place again in all tiers from Wednesday. During the latest lockdown, places of worship have only been allowed to host private prayer. 

Can school nativity plans happen?

Yes, with restrictions. School nativity plays will be allowed to go ahead 'within existing school bubbles' and avoiding any mixing across groups.

Audiences will only be allowed to attend in Tier 1 and 2 areas - subject to 'appropriate safeguards'. In Tier 3, schools are advised to use live-streaming or record the shows.

Santa Claus speaks to two-year-old Leo via live video stream in a UK virtual grotto experience

Can you take your child to a Santa's grotto?

Yes. Santa's grottos can open in all tiers - so long as they are in venues which are allowed to open and put in place Covid secure measures such as social distancing.

For people hoping to get in the festive mood by attending a Christmas market, the Government advises they must check the rules according to their tier.

It states: 'The rules might be different for indoor shops and open air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets.'

TRAIN

Can I book tickets in advance?

Yes. Rail passengers are being urged to book ahead now amid fears of overcrowding with closures of some key stations and lines adding to the potential chaos.

When will trains be busiest? 

The crunch times could be around December 23 and 27, which are the start and end dates of the period when three households can bubble together for Christmas.

More than two million people normally travel by train in the week between December 25 and the first week of January, putting a significant strain on the system. 

Are tickets getting booked up?

Yes. For example, the cheapest LNER single on the morning of December 23 from London King's Cross to Edinburgh is £74, but some trains are already sold out.

Those travelling from London Euston to Manchester on Avanti West Coast that morning can get a single for £30 if before 7am, but the price rises to £85 by 9.30am.

Some trains from Euston to Birmingham are already sold out, but more tickets will soon become available - and the Chiltern route from Marylebone is as little as £6.40.

On the same morning travelling from London Paddington to Cardiff the cheapest Great Western Railway single is £35.40, with decent availability on most trains.

Do you have to book an advance ticket?

Yes, but only on some lines. LNER, which runs from London King's Cross to Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle, will only allow people to travel with a seat reservation.

Passengers wait for a train at London Waterloo railway station on Christmas Eve in 2013

Could tickets drop in price?

Yes. Operators have said more advance tickets will soon be available, and the Rail Delivery Group has advised people to keep checking and sign up for notifications.

Avanti West Coast, which runs trains from London Euston to Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, is releasing more advance fares from tomorrow (December 1).

Are advance tickets being released later than normal?

Yes. Cheaper advance tickets are normally available 12 weeks in advance, but operators say they have been delayed due to short-notice timetable changes.

Are there ways to make your fare cheaper?

Yes. Consider whether you are eligible for a railcard such as a 16-25, 26-30, Two Together, Senior, Disabled, Family and Friends, Network or Veterans for a third off.

Also look at whether it is cheaper to 'split' tickets on the route – that is to split your journey route into different sections and buy individual tickets for the same journey.

This is a legal method as long as the train calls at each of the stations on your tickets. For example, if travelling from London to Newcastle and the train stops at York, you could split the fare by buying a single from London to York, and York to Newcastle.

You could also consider whether it is cheaper to travel at unusual times such as before the morning rush hour or late at night, when fares tend to be much cheaper. 

Are peak fares being suspended?

Yes, on some routes. Avanti is suspending peak fares between December 18 and 31, meaning a London to Manchester flexible peak fare will be £64.40 instead of £180.

Labour and Transport Focus are calling for a temporary suspension of peak fares across all lines in the UK as part of a wider package to help people travel safely.

Will there be Christmas engineering works too?

Yes. Most of the network has now been cleared of engineering works, but there will still be some closures taking place from December 23 to January 4.

King's Cross will be shut for six days from Christmas Day, while there will also be a reduced service between Clapham Junction and Waterloo from Boxing Day.

LNER, which uses King's Cross station for the East Coast Main Line, has warned that alternative routes will be 'very busy and should also be avoided'. 

LNER has issued the above timetable for when people cannot travel to and from King's Cross 

Will trains run on Christmas Day?

No. There will be no train services running on Christmas Day, as is standard each year. However there will be some coach services running (see below).

Will trains run on Boxing Day?

Mostly no, with some exceptions. Only limited services will operate. There will be no services at London King's Cross, Euston, Liverpool Street, Waterloo or St Pancras. 

There will be no c2c, LNER, London Northwestern, South Western, East Midlands, Great Western, West Midlands, CrossCounty, TransPennine Express or Thameslink.

However, there will be Stansted Express services but only from Tottenham Hale every half-hour. The Heathrow Express will also run to and from London Paddington.

Are the Tubes running over Christmas?

Yes, but not on Christmas Day. The London Underground will operate a Saturday service on Christmas Eve, which will be reduced at 8pm and finish at Sunday times.

On Boxing Day, reduced services start from 7am, but there will be no service on sections of the Piccadilly and District lines and much of the London Overground.

Are trains running over the New Year's period?

Yes. New Year's Eve trains will be operating on most lines, but the last train may be earlier than usual. Trains on New Year's Day may start running slightly later too.

COACHES

Are coach operators increasing their services?

Yes. Coaches will have a role to play in moving people around the country because trains are likely to struggle with demand.

National Express said it will increase its services after seeing a 'significant' increase in website traffic after the Government announced its Christmas bubble rules.

But it added that this is still a reduced service with this year's timetable for Christmas Day covering only around half of the locations compared with last year.

Megabus said it had seen a rise in bookings in recent days with demand expected to grow more, with extra seats put on to help the university exodus from this Thursday.

Will coaches run on Christmas Day?

Yes. Both National Express and Megabus will have services on Christmas Day.

Are tickets cheaper than the train?

Yes, in many cases. The cheapest National Express ticket from London to Newcastle on the morning of December 23 is £38.80. The cheapest train ticket on LNER is £71.

From London to Cardiff it is £28 on the coach, or £35.40 on the train. However London to Birmingham is £22 on the coach, but just £6.40 on the train with Chiltern.

Have ticket restrictions been relaxed?

Yes. National Express have changed terms and conditions on restricted tickets so customers can now get one free change. They can get a refund on a standard ticket.

The National Express route map shows where the operator runs coach services across Britain

ROADS  

Will the roads be busy?

Yes. The roads are expected to be busy over the Christmas period as many people shun public transport over fears of catching Covid-19 on overcrowded trains.

To enable to rush to the roads, there are likely to be fewer roadworks than normal – with 500 miles of them cleared on motorways and A-roads to ease congestion.

The RAC has said its breakdown team expects the roads to be busy during the five-day period of December 23 to 27, but it is still unsure quite how busy they will be. 

Will roadworks be lifted for longer than the five-day period?

Yes. Highways England has said the 'current plan' is to remove 'non-essential' roadworks from December 20 this year to January 4 next year.

Are there doubts over how congested it will be?

Yes. The AA has said it is not 'overly concerned' about traffic congestion, with a poll finding two-fifths of drivers had already cancelled festive travel plans.

Does the Congestion Charge operate on Christmas Day?

No, the Central London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone do not operate on Christmas Day only. But they are back in operation from Boxing Day.

FLIGHTS 

Are UK flights running over Christmas?

Yes. EasyJet has already seen a 200 per cent surge in flight and holiday searches in the days after the Government's announcement on Christmas bubbles last week.

The most popular routes included London and Bristol to Belfast, and London to Edinburgh, with the carrier saying it has increased seats on some of its UK routes.

EasyJet will still be running only a fifth of its normal flight schedule over this winter, with other airlines such as Ryanair and British Airways also reducing timetables.

BA has also seen in increasing in people searching for flights and holidays on its website and has insisted it will put on larger aircraft where possible if needed.

Irish airline Aer Lingus will be operating a 'much-reduced schedule' due to a 'lack of demand' for air travel, but it has put on extra capacity on the Dublin-Heathrow route.

Are ticket prices expensive?

Yes. The cheapest London to Belfast single on the morning of December 23 is £164 via Stansted with easyJet. The cheapest London-Dublin single is £79 with Ryanair.

The cheapest London to Edinburgh single on the morning of December 23 is £78 from Luton via easyJet - which is roughly the same price as the LNER train that day.

CHRISTMAS BUBBLE RULES 

Plans revealed last week to allow people to form a temporary bubble over the festive season were welcome news to families across the country.

But how much do we know about what is being proposed? Here, are some key questions based on information released by the Cabinet Office for England:

What is a Christmas bubble and when can I join one?

People will be allowed to form an exclusive Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households between December 23 and 27.

This rule applies across the whole of the UK.

Christmas bubbles can only meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship and public outdoor spaces.

Can I be in more than one Christmas bubble?

No. Christmas bubbles will be fixed for the period they are permitted.

You are also not allowed to change your Christmas bubble once it is formed.

Is there a limit to how many people can be in a Christmas bubble?

The Cabinet Office guidance only stipulates that the bubble should not include people from more than three households.

However, it highlights that the more people someone sees, the more likely they are to catch or spread Covid-19, and asks the public to be mindful of risks before agreeing to form a bubble.

The Scottish Government said people should keep the numbers within a bubble as low as possible and minimise the length of contact between different households in the bubble.

Will we have to social distance within Christmas bubbles?

Social distancing will not be necessary in bubbles, but people will be advised to exercise restraint and judgment if they plan to mix with vulnerable friends or family.

It means friends and family will have the chance to hug for the first time in months.

What happens if I'm self-isolating?

If you have Covid symptoms or are required to self-isolate then you must not join a Christmas bubble.

If someone in a Christmas bubble tests positive for coronavirus or develops symptoms between December 23 and 27, or up to 48 hours after the bubble last met, then all bubble members must self-isolate.

Can I be in a different Christmas bubble from people I normally live with?

Cabinet Office guidance says you can choose to form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with normally.

To prevent virus transmission within your normal household and between bubbles, people should try to stay with another member of their Christmas bubble between December 23 and 27 where possible.

Extra precautions such as cleaning surfaces and door handles and letting in fresh air after someone has visited your household are also advised.

However, the Scottish Government has said that 'different people in a household should not pick their own bubble'. 

Can I still meet people outside of my Christmas bubble?

You will be able to meet people not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in.

The tier system of restrictions applies to England, with rules in other parts of the UK varying.

Can I stay overnight with my Christmas bubble?

Yes. If someone is in your Christmas bubble, you can visit each other's homes and stay overnight, including in private rented accommodation.

Can I travel through different areas and across borders to join a Christmas bubble?

Yes. You are allowed to travel between England's tiers and the four nations of the UK to meet your Christmas bubble.

When am I allowed to travel to and from my Christmas bubble?

You should only travel to meet your bubble and return home between December 23 and 27.

For those heading to or from Northern Ireland, they may travel on December 22 and 28 December, but should only meet their Christmas bubble between December 23 and 27.

Travel outside these periods is only allowed in exceptional circumstances, for example if your are required to self-isolate.

People are advised to avoid unnecessary stops on their journey and not to share a car with people not in their household.

If crossing borders, travellers should read the local coronavirus guidance as different rules may apply.

Does my support bubble count as one household still?

According to the Cabinet Office, existing support bubbles will count as one household contributing to the three household Christmas bubble limit.

A support bubble in England is defined as a support network between a single adult household, or a one adult household with one or more people aged under 18 on June 12, and one other household of any size.

Rules on household bubbles are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with full Christmas guidance still pending from those nations.

Can childcare bubbles continue?

In England, a childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to children aged 13 or under.

Between December 23 and 27 you can continue to use a childcare bubble but 'only if reasonably necessary' and 'where there are no reasonable alternatives', Cabinet Office guidance states.

If meeting socially during this period, the two households should form a Christmas bubble, with one further household permitted to join the grouping.

Again, guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may differ.

What happens to children whose parents are separated?

Children who are aged under 18 can be part of both their parents' Christmas bubbles if the adults do not live together and separate groupings are formed.

Nobody else is allowed to be in two bubbles.

Can care home residents join Christmas bubbles?

In England, visits outside of care homes should only be considered for residents 'of working age'.

A care home resident that is allowed to leave, subject to a home's agreement and individual risk assessments, may form a bubble with one other household only and should not form a three-household Christmas bubble at any point.

If a care home resident does join a household for Christmas they should maintain social distance and take steps to minimise risks.

Can students returning from university join Christmas bubbles?

Students heading home for the holidays will be considered part of the household they return to.

Can I form a Christmas bubble if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?

Yes, but people are warned this involves greater risks.

If someone decides to join a bubble they should take extra precautions, while others within the group should be extra vigilant in the days before getting together.

Can my bubble have Christmas dinner together at the pub?

No. Under the rules Christmas bubbles cannot meet up at indoor settings such as pubs, hotels, retail businesses, theatres or restaurants.

In England, rules on who you can and cannot meet will still depend on which tier of restrictions a venue is in.

Should I follow the rules of the tier I travel to or the tier I've come from when forming my Christmas bubble?

In England, if travelling to join your bubble you should follow the tier rules of your destination.

In Scotland, you must stay with your bubble where they are hosting you and you should follow the travel advice for the level you are in.

For example, people being hosted in a level 3 area cannot go on an outing to a level 2 area.

Can I stay in a hotel during Christmas?

In England, you can stay in a hotel during the Christmas period, including in a tier three area, but only on your own or with members of your household.

How will the Christmas rules be enforced?

No specific details have been released over how authorities might enforce the newly announced rules during the festive period.

Will we face tougher restrictions in January to make up for this?

We do not yet know. It has been speculated that a further circuit-breaker might be needed in January or February if transmission rates rise during Christmas.

The Prime Minister has urged families to still be 'jolly careful', warning against 'a big blowout Christmas' that could risk another lockdown in January.

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