What Tier 4 restrictions mean for Hertfordshire residents

Chief scientific adviser, Chief Medical Officer and Prime Minister

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (left) and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (right), listen to Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, at 10 Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

All of Hertfordshire moves into the newly created Tier 4 coronavirus alert level on Sunday, December 20. But what are the Tier 4 rules and restrictions?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this afternoon that London and the parts of the south east and east of England that were in Tier 3 were moving into Tier 4, including Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Large parts of Herts – including Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock, Royston, Harpenden, St Albans and Hertford – only moved into Tier 3 this morning (Saturday).

Herts local council areas Broxbourne, Watford, Hertsmere, which includes Potters Bar, and Three Rivers were previously moved into the ‘Very High’ COVID alert level on Wednesday, December 16.

As of midnight, all of the county will be in Tier 4, meaning non essential shops will have to close, as will indoor gyms, and there will be no relaxation of the restrictions for Christmas.

There are now four tiers of local restrictions to suppress the virus:

  • Tier 1: Medium alert
  • Tier 2: High alert
  • Tier 3: Very High alert
  • Tier 4: Stay at Home

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In terms of numbers:

  • Tier 1: 906,374 (2% of the population)
  • Tier 2: 17,005,573 (30%)
  • Tier 3: 20,659,139 (37%)
  • Tier 4: 17,706,154 (31%)

If you do not live in a Tier 4 area, you may see a maximum of two other households – your ‘Christmas bubble’  – on Christmas Day,  December 25. You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area.

Tier 4: Stay at Home guidance
What you can and cannot do in areas with a rapidly rising level of infections, where tighter restrictions are in place from December 20, according to www.gov.uk

If you live in a Tier 4 area, you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble.

Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.

You must not leave or be outside of your home except for where you have a specific purpose, or a ‘reasonable excuse’.

A reasonable excuse includes:

  • Work and volunteering
    You can leave home for work purposes, where your place of work remains open, and where you cannot work from home, including if your job involves working in other people’s homes.
  • Essential activities
    You can leave home to buy things at shops which are permitted to open in your area, but you should stay local. For example, you can leave home to buy food or medicine, or to collect any items, including food or drink, ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money (e.g. from a bank or post office), or to access critical public services.
  • Exercise and recreation
    People can also exercise outdoors or visit some public outdoor places, such as parks, the countryside, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities. You can continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in a public outdoor place with your household, support bubble, or one other person.
  • Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits
    You can leave home for any medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies, to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse), or for animal welfare reasons – such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship and life events
    You can attend a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or a related event for someone who has died, or to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding – but funerals, linked events and weddings are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend.

You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can exercise or visit a public outdoor place

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with,
  • with your support bubble,
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.

Children under five, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • allotments
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities
  • playgrounds

You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

Businesses and venues
Businesses and venues which must close

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services.
These include:

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods – these venues can continue to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs, with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery.
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor tennis and basketball courts, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor climbing walls.
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks.
  • indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open.
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other people’s homes.
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services, for example for people who do not have it at home, and for click-and-collect services.

The following businesses and places will be permitted to open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • education and training - for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision.
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for children.
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks.
  • to provide medical treatment.
  • for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios).
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls).
  • for the purposes of professional film and TV filming.

Businesses and venues which can remain open

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. This includes those providing essential goods and services, including:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres and Christmas tree retailers, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • funeral directors.
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • medical and dental services.
  • vets and pet shops.
  • animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes).
  • agricultural supplies shops.
  • mobility and disability support shops.
  • storage and distribution facilities.
  • car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • outdoor playgrounds.
  • outdoor gym, pools, sports courts and facilities.
  • golf courses.
  • archery/driving/shooting ranges (outdoors).
  • outdoor riding centres.

Public services

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists.
  • Jobcentre Plus sites.
  • courts and probation services.
  • civil registrations offices.
  • passport and visa services.
  • services provided to victims.
  • waste or recycling centres.

Going to work
To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so.

Where people cannot do so, including people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing, they should continue to travel to their workplace.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people's homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so.

Travelling within a Tier 4 area
According to the government, if you live in a Tier 4 area, you must stay at home.

You must not leave your home to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.

If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.

Travelling out of a Tier 4 area
You must stay at home and not leave your Tier 4 area, other than for legally permitted reasons such as:

  • travel to work where you cannot work from home
  • travel to education and for caring responsibilities
  • visit those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • attend hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health.

Travelling to a Tier 4 area from a Tier 1, 2 or 3 area
You should not travel into a Tier 4 area from another part of the UK, other than for reasons such as:

  • travel to work where you cannot work from home
  • travel to education and for caring responsibilities
  • to visit those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • to attend hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health.