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Updated 21 December 2020

Following the second national lockdown, the tier system has now come into effect in England. The government has just announced that the city of London, South East and East of England, will move to Tier 4: Stay at Home, the highest and strictest tier available.

What is the Tier restriction system and what does it actually mean for the people of London after the city has moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4? 

The Tier restriction

The Tier restriction system is essentially a regionally-differentiated approach, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country depending on the severity of the pandemic. The four tiers are split into Medium alert, High alert, Very High alert and Stay at Home.

While restrictions vary between tiers, the following rules apply across all tiers. Everyone is expected to:

  • wear a face-covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption
  • follow the rules on meeting others safely
  • attend school or college as normal, unless they are self-isolating. Schools, universities, colleges and early years settings remain open in all tiers
  • walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling
  • follow the gathering limits at their tier except for in specific settings and circumstances. These exemptions are detailed at the end of this guidance

What are the rules for Tier 3?

Although short-lived, Greater London was at one point moved to tier 3: very high alert. Below is a summary of what tier 3 restriction actually entails, compiled from the official government website.

  • No social meetings may take place indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues. Social meetings with your household or bubble are allowed
  • The ‘rule of 6’; meetings of up to six people are permitted in open-air spaces such as beaches, parks or countryside
  • Shops, gyms, swimming pools and personal care services (barbers, beauty salons etc) may remain open
  • Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must continue to remain closed. Exemptions applies for delivery and takeaway services
  • Sporting events may not proceed with spectators
  • Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, cinemas, etc, must remain closed
  • Hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses must close
  • Weddings and funerals may proceed but with a maximum of 15 and 30 attendees respectively, wedding receptions are not permitted
  • It is advised to avoid travel to tier three areas


What are the rules for Tier 4?

After a significant rise in COVID-19 cases due to a possible mutation of the COVID-19 virus, Greater London along with other areas have now been moved to Tier 4. Below is a summary of what Tier 4 restriction actually entails, compiled from the official government website. 

  • All residents must stay at home, except if they have good reasons to travel. Prime examples being work or school
  • All non-essential retail stores, hospitality venues, accommodations, indoor entertainment venues must close for the time being
  • Theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys must close
  • Residents of Tier 4 areas will not be allowed to join Christmas Day bubbles in tiers 1 to 3
  • Residents are not permitted to meet others indoors, unless they share the same house or part of their support bubble
  • Residents should not leave tier 4 areas or travel abroad, except in limited circumstances (including work and education)
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not allowed except in exceptional circumstances

Although Tier 4 introduces strict and rigid restrictions, residents are still afforded the following:

  • Residents are still permitted to exercise or visit a public outdoor place if going alone or the people they live with, their support bubble, or, when going alone, with one other person from another household
  • These public outdoor places include: parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
    public gardens, outdoor sports courts and facilities and playgrounds among some others
  • Residents may still travel to work, school and for caring responsibilities. Visiting those in their support or childcare bubble, hospital and buying essential goods and services
  • Residents can attend places of worship for a service. However, they must not mingle with anyone outside of their household or support bubble.

Please refer here for the detailed breakdown.

Tier 4 mapped. Is your area under Tier 4?

The city of London, South East and East of England, will move to Tier 4: Stay at Home. if you’re wondering whether or not your area is under tier 4, please do check the map below.

Image ©

Greater London (all 32 boroughs plus the city of London)

City of London, Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster.

South East

  • Kent and Medway
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Berkshire (Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead and West Berkshire)
  • Surrey (excluding Waverley)
  • Hastings and Rother
  • Havant, Gosport and Portsmouth

East of England

  • Hertfordshire
  • Essex (excluding Tendring, Uttlesford and Colchester)
  • Central Bedfordshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton
  • Peterborough