United Kingdom

What the new three-tier lockdown rules mean for you, and is there a Tier 4?

The Government has introduced a new system of "Local Covid Alert Levels" in England, more commonly known as the three-tier system. 

The approach will see different parts of the country placed in different categories dependent on rates of infection, with areas in the highest level facing the toughest restrictions.

Lancashire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Warrington, Nottingham and the Liverpool city region are in the "very high" tier of Covid alert. 

London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash are in the "high" Covid alert level.

What is the 'three-tier traffic light' system?

Local lockdowns are determined by a three-tier "traffic light" system.

The new approach divides the country into different areas based on local infection rates, which will dictate the severity of local lockdowns.

It works alongside the new NHS Test and Trace app, which sees people scanning a special QR code to enter and exit pubs, restaurants and bars. The app will then send a message to the user about lockdown conditions when the coronavirus risk profile changes.

Schools, shops and universities will remain open.

In Liverpool and Lancashire, which are in the top tier, leisure businesses have been ordered to close. 

Tier 1 (medium level)

The medium level will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national measures. This means those in a Tier 1 area must abide by the "Rule of Six" and the closure of hospitality venues at 10pm.

Read more: Tier 1 lockdown rules

Tier 2 (high level)

This level reflects many areas currently under local restrictions. In such areas people will be prevented from mixing with other households indoors. Most areas already subject to local restrictions will move to the high alert level.

The Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors and in private gardens.

This tier now includes London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash.

Read more: Tier 2 lockdown rules

Tier 3 (very high level)

This level will apply in areas where transmission rates are causing the biggest concern. 

The Government will set a "baseline" of measures that need to be in place for this tier, such as prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens and closing pubs and bars unless they can operate as a restaurant. 

People will be advised against travelling in and out of these areas.

The Prime Minister said agreement had been reached with leaders in Merseyside, explaining it would be at the "very high alert" level – with gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos also closing.

Lancashire entered Tier 3 on October 17 after a last-ditch deal was agreed with the Government with an extra £12 million funding package. 

The Liverpool City region, which includes Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton and Halton, was placed under Tier 3 restrictions on October 14, Greater Manchester on October 23 and Warrington on October 27.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own devolved governments and separate health systems. Wales is subject to a firebreak lockdown while Scotland has also imposed strict measures.

The Prime Minister said there is “no doubt” that the UK faces arduous months ahead as it grapples with a second wave of coronavirus cases, but is keen to avoid a nationwide lockdown.

Read more: Tier 3 lockdown rules

Tier 4 scenario

The Government will "rule nothing out" on the prospect of a new fourth tier of restrictions, Matt Hancock has said.

Officials are drawing up fresh plans to add an extra lockdown level, which could see restaurants and non-essential shops shut in the event infection rates in England fail to drop.

The fourth tier is thought to be viewed as a short term option which could be deployed instead of national circuit-breaker restrictions in order to get the spread of the virus back under control. 

Back in August, the Department for Education published a four-tier structure, in which all educational institutions including primary schools and early years settings would be shut. Existing tier three measures include the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve food, topped up by shutting gyms, soft play centres and casinos.

Asked about it on Monday 26 October, the Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast: "We've always said all along that we take nothing off the table.

"Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.

"The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control.

"We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt."

Government scientists including Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, have warned that the "base line" Tier 3 restrictions were unlikely to be enough to bring down the R-rate alone. 

What are Tier 4 restrictions?

Talks are underway between officials and local authorities to create a "plan B" to drive Covid-19 infection rates down if the current three-tiered lockdown system fails to work. 

Extra tier three-plus or potential tier four restrictions could mean restaurants and non-essential shops are forced to close.

Under a distinct tier system created by the Department for Education, all educational institutions, including primary schools and early years settings, would be shut. 

Matt Hancock ruled nothing in or out when he was asked about Tier 4 restrictions on Monday October 26, but it is thought new restrictions could be introduced in some parts of the country as early as November.

How did we get here?

On October 12, England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said pressure was building on NHS hospitals, with a steep rise in the number of people needing urgent treatment for coronavirus.

Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the announcement on further restrictions by the Prime Minister, Prof Van-Tam said other regions were now following the North West of England pattern where the virus moved through the age bands, having started spiking among young people first.

"There is the spread from those younger age groups into the 60-plus age group in the North West and the North East, and there are rates of change in the same places but also extending a little further south," he said.

"And this is again of significant concern, because of course the elderly suffer a much worse course with Covid-19, they are admitted to hospital for longer periods, and they are more difficult to save."

NHS England's national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said there was still no cure or vaccine for Covid-19 and that more people were now in hospital with coronavirus than before restrictions were announced in March.

"Sadly, as the number of those infected increases, then so will the number of people who die," he said.

"And that's why the Government is looking at what other measures could be introduced in the areas where infection is rising the most.

"As the Secretary of State for Health has said, if we do not take measures to control the spread of the virus, the death toll will be too great to bear."

What are the general restrictions? 

On September 23, the Prime Minister told the country that new, tighter, rules had been put in place around the wearing of face masks, pub opening hours and weddings, while people who are able have been encouraged to work from home.

The restrictions would be in place for the next six months unless there was "palpable progress", the Prime Minister said.

These restrictions are the minimum measures for areas in Tier 1. 

Here are the key points from the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons last month:

Read more: New local lockdown restrictions

Local lockdowns

Outbreaks of Covid-19 are accelerating quite rapidly in the North West and North East of England and there has been a significant uptick in the number of people being admitted to intensive care, England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said.

The tough new regional lockdowns unveiled ordered the closure of hundreds of pubs in the North West of England for four weeks from October 14.

Six boroughs in Liverpool, covering 1.6 million people, were the first to be placed in the highest tier of new restrictions. Pubs, gyms, casinos, bookmakers and social clubs shut for at least one month, and possibly up to six.

Lancashire followed on October 17, and restrictions are planned in Manchester, though the Mayor, Andy Burnham, is resisting.

Warrington and Nottinghamshire are the latest areas in England to face a tightening of restrictions in response to rising cases of Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the two cities and town would move into the Tier 2 "high" coronavirus level at one minute past midnight on Saturday.

Regions deemed at highest risk could also face bans on households mixing indoors and outdoors, on overnight stays outside their area and on all but essential travel for work or education in or beyond the region.

These additional restrictions are not expected to be enforced in Liverpool for the time being. However, the Army logistics corps has been called up to help with Covid testing and contact tracing in the region through mobile centres staffed by soldiers, and the Government has provided additional funds to pay for officials to help enforce the new rules.  And police are to be given the power to access the NHS Test and Trace database if they suspect that an individual should be self-isolating with suspected coronavirus.


A two-week “fire break” lockdown designed to contain the latest spike in coronavirus cases was introduced across Wales on Friday October 23. 

After discussions with the Welsh cabinet, First Minister Mark Drakeford said a “short, sharp, shock to turn back to clock, slow down the virus, and give us more time” was agreed.  

The break includes the half-term holiday and last until Monday November 9.

Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will close and places of worship will no longer be able to hold regular services, except for funerals and weddings.

Following the half-term holiday, primary schools and special schools will reopen, Mr Drakeford said.

During the fire break, people will be banned from meeting people outside of their household both indoors and outdoors with anyone they do not live with, with exceptions for those living alone.

They must stay at home, except for limited purposes such as exercise, and must work from home wherever possible.

Gatherings are banned, including Halloween and fireworks or Bonfire Night celebrations.

Non-essential travel within Wales has essentially been banned with increased border restriction on travel into the country.

People living in areas with high levels of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not allowed to travel to Wales.


Scots face wide-ranging travel bans while shops, hairdressers and gyms in virus-hit areas would be shut down again under “complicated” new lockdown rules unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister has published proposals for her five-tier system for imposing local restrictions, which will come into force on November 2, and will be used to set rules for each of Scotland’s 32 council areas.

Under the highest level, to be imposed on areas where virus levels are “very high or rapidly increasing”, close to a full lockdown would be brought in, with non-essential shops shut and the possible reimposition of the “stay at home” order.

Even Scots in areas not suffering from high infections face significant curbs on their liberty, with non-essential travel to be banned to areas in the second highest or highest tier. Those in hard-hit areas would be banned from leaving their council borders, with only limited exceptions, such as to go to work or for education.

Read more: Scotland's lockdown rules explained

Northern Ireland

Tighter restrictions for Northern Ireland were announced by Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster, with most measures coming into force on October 17.

Pubs and restaurants are closed for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools closed on October 19 for two weeks - one of which will cover the half-term Halloween break.

Under the new restrictions, retail outlets will remain open, as will gyms for individual training.

Churches will also remain open and it is understood a 25-person limit will be placed on funerals and weddings, but wedding receptions are prohibited.

People should work from home unless unable to do so, and are urged not to take unnecessary journeys.

Could there be a short 'circuit breaker' lockdown?

Boris Johnson overruled government scientists who pressed for national lockdown measures such as a circuit breaker  stopping all household mixing and closing all pubs, it emerged on October 12. 

Newly released Sage papers, dated September 20 and 21, revealed the scientists called for the immediate consideration of five national measures, saying none of them would be sufficient on its own.

"The shortlist of non-pharmaceutical interventions that should be considered for immediate introduction includes a circuit-breaker (short period of lockdown) to return incidence to low levels; advice to work from home for all those that can; banning all contact within the home with members of other households, except members of a support bubble; closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and personal services (eg hairdressers); all university and college teaching to be online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential," the papers said.

A related paper warned: "As over 90 per cent of the population remains susceptible, not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences in terms of direct Covid-related deaths and the ability of the health service to meet needs.

"A package of interventions will need to be adopted to prevent this exponential rise in cases. Single interventions are unlikely to be able to reduce incidence." 

Measures could be imposed at a regional or national level, the papers suggested, but went on to stress: "Both local and national measures are needed: measures should not be applied in too specific a geographical area."

At a Downing Street briefing on October 12, Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer and a member of Sage, said he was not confident that the "baseline" measures announced for tier three areas – those with the highest Covid infection rates – would be sufficient to reverse the rise of the virus.

It left Mr Johnson having to warn local leaders that if they did not agree to lockdown measures, they would be imposed by the Government "to protect public health".

Read more: Would a 'circuit break' lockdown work?

What are the detailed national restrictions?

Social gatherings of more than six people are illegal (the rule of six). 

Anyone socialising in groups larger than six will be now be liable for a £200 on-the-spot fine, which will double on repeat offences up to £6,400. Previously, the fine was £100.

The same punishment applies to failing to wear a face mask when you should. It will be a £200 fine for the first offence.

The limit of six people from up to six households will apply to adults and children indoors and outdoors, in homes, gardens, parks and venues such as pubs and restaurants. 

A family of five will only be allowed to meet one grandparent at a time, while families of six or more will be banned from meeting anyone at all. 

Mr Johnson said: "There will be some limited exemptions; for example, if a single household or support bubble is larger than six, then obviously they can still gather.

"Covid-secure venues like places of worships, gyms, restaurants, hospitality venues can still hold more than six in total. Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.

"Education and work settings are unaffected. Covid-secure weddings and funerals can go ahead up to a limit of 30 people and organised sport will still be able to proceed."

What about testing?

Testing is key to avoiding another lockdown. However, large numbers of people will be refused coronavirus tests even if they have symptoms under government plans to ration testing if the crisis deepens, The Telegraph revealed on September 16. 

A prioritisation list drawn up by health officials suggests routine testing would no longer be offered to swathes of the public, with tests restricted to hospital patients, care homes, certain key workers and schools. 

Mr Johnson outlined plans to use testing to identify those who do not have coronavirus, so they can "behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else with the virus".

The "moonshot" plan, the Prime Minister said, could enable theatres and sports venues to test audience members on the day and allow in all those testing negative, as well as enable workplaces to operate more normally.

Mr Johnson said: "In future, in the near future, we want to start using testing to identify people who are negative - who don't have coronavirus and who are not infectious - so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else with the virus.

"Crucially, it should be possible to deploy these tests on a far bigger scale than any country has yet achieved - literally millions of tests processed every single day."

A pilot of the Moonshot Covid-19 testing programme will begin in October despite government scientific advisers warning that it could be seen as "authoritarian".

Salford and Southampton have been chosen as the proving grounds for mass testing, with separate pilots to be carried out at sports and leisure venues such as football stadiums and theatres.

The NHS Covid-19 app, which forms part of the wider Test and Trace strategy, will have only a "limited effect" on containing coronavirus because too many people are waiting more than 24 hours for their test results, a Government adviser has warned.

Can I get financial support?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new "job support scheme" that will replace the current furlough system from Nov 1. The new scheme has been created to avoid redundancies for those who are forced to work fewer hours.

Anyone who was working as of September 23 is eligible. However, they must work at least one fifth of their normal contracted hours.

Businesses that have not used the furlough can also access the new scheme, but not all companies will be able to apply.

Large companies can access the scheme if their turnover has fallen significantly as a result of the pandemic, and small or medium sized businesses will also have access. Larger companies will have to show that their sales have been materially affected.

Freelancers struggling during coronavirus have been thrown a lifeline, as Mr Sunak has said he will make the next rounds of emergency funding a lot more generous. 

Some self-employed people have already been given two grants to compensate for lost income. From November they will be able to claim a third grant to support them until February, when a fourth and final grant will be available to cover them until the end of April.

Read more: Am I eligible for the job support scheme?

Read more: Can I claim a self-employed grant - and how much will I get?

Going to work and using public transport

The Government's call for people to return to the workplace, a measure seen as critical for the survival of cafes and other businesses which rely on commuters and office workers, has been dropped.

Mr Johnson has confirmed the Government's reversion to its stance that all those who can work from home should do so.

Unions had criticised the Government's return-to-work drive, claiming that fewer than half of workplaces have put adequate social distancing measures in place.

An initial back-to-work publicity campaign mooted by the Government was delayed following a significant rise in the prevalence of the virus throughout the UK.

In depth: Your rights if your employer asks you to go back to work

Face masks

Face coverings are mandatory in shops, supermarkets, banks and building societies, with fines of up to £200 for anyone who fails to adhere to the new rules. 

The Prime Minister recently announced that masks are also now required for retail staff, taxi passengers and hospitality customers except where seated.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing the Prime Minister said face coverings should be worn over your mouth and nose "if you're in an enclosed space, and in close contact with people you don't normally meet".

He added: "I know, wearing a face covering feels odd to some people, I understand that, but face coverings do make it harder for the virus to spread, so please wear one to protect others." 

The Government has introduced tougher penalties for repeatedly failing to wear masks in public places. Fines will double each time someone is found in breach of the rules, with the maximum of £6,400.

On July 31, Mr Johnson announced that masks had to be worn in museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship and this was written into law in England on August 8.

Visitors to hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres, dentists and opticians are not required to wear face coverings.

Face coverings are already compulsory on public transport.

Social distancing

The Government has reiterated that people should always adhere to the two-metre rule when engaging with those they do not live with - or one metre with a face covering.

Face coverings are also mandatory where two-metre distancing is not possible; for example in some hospitality settings and on public transport. 

Rule of Six and social bubbles

People should continue to "limit social contact as much as possible, and minimise interactions with other households", Mr Johnson said.

The Government said people should keep their distance from people they do not live with, and encouraged meeting outdoors. 

The rule of six replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30, and the current guidelines on allowing two households to meet indoors.

Mr Johnson said he was "sorry" that two whole households would no longer be able to meet if their total exceeds six people.

He said: "This rule of six will, of course, throw up difficult cases; for example two whole households will no longer be able to meet if they would together exceed the limit of six people and I'm sorry about that, and I wish that we did not have to take this step.

"But as your Prime Minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives. And of course we will keep the rule of six under constant review and only keep it in place as long as is necessary."

Households and "support bubbles" that exceed six people are exempt from this rule. 

Families will be told to choose one member to visit elderly relatives in care homes.

Government guidance for the care sector – which bans flowers and hugs – says homes can begin allowing visitors shortly after they have undergone risk assessments of safety protocols. 

The advice recommends "limiting the numbers of visitors to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible". It says: "This, for example, means the same family member visiting each time to limit the number of different individuals coming into contact." 

Relatives will be told to wear face coverings and follow advice on social distancing as much as possible, keeping at least one metre away and avoiding handshakes, kisses or hugs. 


Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will be put back under additional restrictions, with "specifically adapted" measures based on which tier they live in, the Government announced on October 13. 

The guidance is as follows: 

  • Tier 1: Strictly observe social distancing, meet others outside where possible, limit unnecessary journeys on public transport and work from home where possible, but you can still go to work and children should still attend school. 
  • Tier 2: Reduce the number of different people met outside, avoid travel except for essential journeys, work from home where possible and reduce the number of shopping trips made or go at quieter times of the day. You can still go to work if you cannot work from home because all workplaces should be Covid-secure, and children should still attend school. 
  • Tier 3: Work from home, in general stay at home as much as possible, and avoid all but essential travel. You should also significantly reduce shopping trips, and if possible use online delivery or ask people in your household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines. People in these areas are encouraged to still go outside for exercise, and can still go to school and to work if they cannot work from home. 

England's deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said the new approach would "provide clarity on how best those in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible depending on the rates of transmission in their local area". 

The approach would be "fine-tuned" throughout the winter. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “With coronavirus rates continuing to increase, now is the time to take action and ensure we protect the most vulnerable in our society."  


Individuals who test positive for coronavirus or show symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days.

Anyone infected with coronavirus who leaves self-isolation in a way that puts someone else in danger is committing a crime, with the fine now rising to £10,000 for a second offence.

Other offences recently added into law include a £1,000 fine for falsely telling test and trace officials that you came into contact with a neighbour, colleague or friend after testing positive for coronavirus, forcing them into 14 days isolation.

Under the rule, people would be guilty of a criminal offence if they "knowingly falsely state" to a test and trace or council officer that "someone is a close contact of a person who has tested positive for coronavirus". A fourth such offence would entail a £10,000 fine.

Deliberately not naming your family to test and trace officials when you test positive, so requiring them to self-isolate, also becomes an offence, with a fine of £1,000, rising to £10,000 on the fourth occasion.

Failing to tell your boss that you have to self-isolate "as soon as reasonably practicable" will be an offence, punishable by a £50 fine, while any employer who forces a self-isolating member of staff to come to work will face a fine of £1,000.

In depth: Coronavirus vs flu and cold symptoms

Foreign travel

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has published a list of countries and territories where the Government has abandoned its 14-day quarantine policy. Changes are usually announced on Thursdays. 

Mr Johnson announced on September 9 that Border Force would also step up the enforcement of quarantine rules for travellers into the country.

"We will simplify the passenger locator form needed for travelling to the UK and take measures to ensure these are completed and checked before departure," he said.

"Border Force will step up enforcement efforts at the border to ensure arrivals are complying with the quarantine rules."

In depth:  How to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore Foreign Office advice

Pubs, restaurants and hospitality

All pubs, bars and restaurants must now operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.

Social premises and venues, including pubs and restaurants, are now also legally required to request Test and Trace information from customers and keep the details for 21 days.

Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure. Manchester City Council has called for local authorities and police to have greater powers of enforcement, which would enable them to close offending premises.

The latest rules require pubs, bars, restaurants and members' clubs to take "all reasonable measures" to stop singing on the premises by groups of more than six, and dancing, or face fines of at least £1,000, rising to £10,000 for a fourth offence. 

They are also barred from playing music that exceeds 85 decibels in order to prevent people from shouting at each other or getting too close to speak. 

Read more: What do the new Covid rules mean for gyms, pubs, restaurants and universities?

Gyms, swimming pools and sports

The rule of six has now been extended to all adult indoor team sports.

Netball, basketball, five-a-side football and other sports will be severely impacted, but it is understood that there may be some emergency funding on the way.

Gyms remain largely unaffected since the latest changes were announced, but the Prime Minister reiterated recently that groups of six people cannot go to the gym together.

Swimming pools are permitted to reopen - though not all have - and grassroots sports have restarted, albeit with limitations on indoor activities.

While face coverings remain obligatory on public transport, gym-goers are not expected to wear theirs while working out. Some gyms might require them though - so ask before you go.

In depth: Will gyms close again? 


Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins a socially distanced lesson during a visit to Bovingdon Primary School in Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead
Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins a socially distanced lesson during a visit to Bovingdon Primary School in Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assured university students that he would allow them home for Christmas.  

Mr Johnson said he would ensure that schools, colleges and universities stayed open "because nothing is more important than the education, health and wellbeing of our young people".

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, also promised that "every student will be able to spend Christmas with their family".

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Williamson sought to assuage fears that university students would no longer  be able to return home at the end of the year if the coronavirus situation did not improve

Mr Williamson said: "It's essential we put in place measures to ensure this can happen, while minimising the risk of transmission.

"My department will publish this guidance shortly so that every student will be able to spend Christmas with their family."

A socially distanced classroom at Charles Dickens Primary School in London 
A socially distanced classroom at Charles Dickens Primary School in London  Credit: PA

Chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said that rates in school-aged children below the age of 17 "are really not changing very much".

Schools, nurseries and colleges opened "for all children and young people on a full-time basis" from September, with schools in England told to keep classes or whole year groups apart in separate "bubbles".

The Government insisted that closing schools "is not an option", but Prof Whitty said the Government's policy on schools might have to be "looked at again" if infections among school-aged children rise.

Prof Whitty said: "At the moment rates are still very low, if there were to be a change in that, there were to be a much broader increase in rates including of school-age children, I think the current policies would have to be looked at again as in the other areas."

In depth: Will schools close again?

Hairdressers and salons

Although hair salons reopened, the experience of getting your hair cut is very different.

Hairdressers are required to wear full-face plastic visors and surgical face masks to reduce the risk of infection and also need to follow strict rules over the disinfecting of equipment. 

Customers must usually make appointments, and there are limits on the amount of people in salons. Customers are not obliged to wear a mask, but can if they wish to. 

Beauty salons, nail bars, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close contact services have also reopened.

In depth: What beauty treatments are allowed? 

Hotels and camping

Hotels, holiday apartments, caravan parks and campsites can now operate as long as shared facilities are kept clean. 

In government guidance released on June 24, establishments were advised to implement a series of measures to ensure the safety of guests and staff. 

Those checking in to hotels should expect to see social distancing stickers on the floor, perspex screens at the reception desk  and hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises during their stay.

The duration of activities such as check-in should now be kept as short as possible, and keys should be cleaned in between guest use.  Queues may form outside hotels as they have done outside supermarkets, and hotels have been asked to introduce queuing systems using barriers should they be needed.

Larger hotels can opt to stagger check-in and check-out times, or place markers on the floor to maintain social distancing.

Recommendations to stop coronavirus from spreading also include emptying mini bars, offering buffet-free breakfasts and regularly deep cleaning rooms, with 24 hours left between bookings.

All paperwork is likely to be removed from rooms, along with the telephone, while the plastic pouch containing tea and coffee sachets will either be removed or quarantined for up to 72 hours between guests.

It is thought campsites will ensure that tents are pitched further apart than normal so social distancing measures can be adhered to, along with frequent deep cleaning of facility blocks such as showers.

Cinemas, museums, galleries and theatres

Boris Johnson announced on September 9 that plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later in September would have to be revised. Indoor performances resumed on August 15.

Outdoor theatres reopened and other leisure venues, including cinemas, art galleries and museums, were allowed to reopen more fully from July 4, albeit with their own social distancing rules in place.

Suggested guidance in galleries and museums includes one-way systems, spaced queuing, increased ventilation and pre-booked tickets. Wearing a mask is mandatory in visitor attractions and entertainment venues. Cinemas are expected to sell only a certain proportion of seats for each movie and face masks are now mandatory.

Both the Cineworld and Picturehouse cinema chains have said film screenings will have staggered start and end times, and customers are likely to be required to queue outside before entering to maintain social distancing.

Once inside, families and friends who book together will be allowed to sit with each other at screenings, but it is likely that seats will be kept free between different bookings. However, there will be no pick 'n' mix or other self-service snacks.

In depth: This is what the Covid cinema experience is actually like 

Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos

Casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks reopened on August 15.

All of the above premises are expected to have "Covid-secure" measures in place, which will most likely involve limitations on customer capacity.


Places of worship are reopening, but hymns are forbidden due to the higher risk of the virus being transmitted through singing.  

Churches are encouraged to implement a "booking system", meaning people may need to reserve their space ahead of services.

Worshippers are advised to bring their own bible or holy book to their place of worship with them. Where worshippers are unable to do so, books should be cleaned and quarantined for 48 hours since their previous use. Muslims should also bring their own prayer mat to services.

Communion is allowed if it is deemed "essential", but worshippers should not drink from the same glass or share the same bread, which could come pre-wrapped. The priest distributing communion should wear gloves and all those involved in the practice should wash their hands before and after.

No hymns should be sung or wood instruments used as they create an “additional risk of infection”.

At christenings, if a family wishes to have their baptism as a private ceremony then the attendees must be limited to six people, excluding the officiant and others working at the ceremony.  If the baptism is to happen within the course of communal worship - a service at which the general public can attend, not just an invited group, and normally referring to an advertised regular act of worship - then the numbers who can attend need to be assessed for the building to determine how many it can hold safely with physical distancing. 

For christenings and other water rituals, only “small volumes” should be splashed onto the body with full immersion avoided. Those present should stand “distant from any splashes” and all those involved should thoroughly wash their hands before and after such ceremonies. Parents should hold their children throughout the christening service. 


The socially distanced wedding of Tom Hall and Heather McLaren, at St George's Church, Leeds, on July 4 
The socially distanced wedding of Tom Hall and Heather McLaren, at St George's Church, Leeds, on July 4  Credit: PA

At present, a maximum of 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, a reduction from the 30 guests permitted by earlier regulations. That number includes the couple, witnesses, officiants, guests, photographers, security or caterers, but does not include staff employed by the venue.

Guests should avoid singing, shouting or raising their voices during the ceremonies, while the bride and groom must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings.

The guidelines also state that only one person is permitted to sing during the ceremony and they should do so from behind a perspex screen. 

"Spoken responses during marriages or civil partnerships should also not be in a raised voice," the official guidance says. "This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets."

The orders of service will be disposable and cash donations will be discouraged. Under the new rules, weddings and civil partnerships should be concluded in the “shortest possible time” and limited to the “legally binding” sections of the service.

Up to 30 people can still attend a funeral.

In depth: The new Covid rules for weddings 

What could happen next?

Further tightening of the rule of six

With Scotland and Northern Ireland opting to ban households mixing indoors, Mr Johnson could seek to follow suit if the data shows the rule of six is failing to drive down infections.

Pubs closing

If the 10pm curfew fails to drive down non-compliance with social distancing rules in hospitality venues, Mr Johnson could opt to close them altogether.

The proposal was discussed extensively by ministers but was swerved amid concerns it could dent the economic recovery.

Outdoor sports, gyms, pools

While the rules on outdoor sports remain unchanged, ministers could extend the rule of six to include contact team sports such as rugby, football and hockey if cases continue to rise.

Gyms, which were one of the last venues to reopen during the easing of lockdown due to the high-risk of transmission, could also be at risk.

Swimming pools are also believed to be another area of concern.

Non-essential shops

In a bid to further reduce non-essential contact between households, ministers could seek to shut clothes shops, hairdressers and beauty salons in a repeat of lockdown measures introduced in March.


While Mr Johnson has made clear that schools will be the last sector to shut if more restrictions are required, a growing number of scientists have suggested that universities may be forced to shift back to virtual teaching.

How do you feel about a second lockdown? Will you follow new restrictions? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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