Home World UNITED KINGDOM What are the new tier system rules, and when will Covid restrictions...

What are the new tier system rules, and when will Covid restrictions end?


Tier 2 and 3 restrictions will apply to 99 per cent of England from today.

Despite rebellion from 55 Tory MPs, the new tier system passed in the House of Commons on December 1 by 291 votes to 78. The vote came about 5 hours before the national lockdown expired at midnight.

A further 16 Conservative MPs abstained after they shared their concerns over the harsher tier system before the vote. This is the biggest rebellion of Boris Johnson’s premiership.  

Now lockdown has expired, a “uniform set of measures” applies by tier across the country until spring, rather than negotiations with individual local authorities.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there is “every reason” to expect some areas could be moved into a lower tier in their first fortnightly review on December 16.

Large urban areas such as Greater Manchester and Birmingham have been placed in Tier 3, London and Liverpool are in Tier 2 and just three regions will be in Tier 1. Use our postcode tool to find out what tier you fall under.

All three tiers face limits on gatherings and rules to cover faces, but non-essential retail can reopen and international travel can resume.

On December 23, restrictions will be relaxed in all tiers until December 27 to allow three households to celebrate together indoors, outdoors or in a place of worship.

Before the House of Commons voted to introduce the new tier system on December 1, Boris Johnson told MPs that the tiers would be decided on a more “granular” basis after the review in mid-December. 

Despite the measures passing, the Prime Minister’s speech was interrupted several times, as MPs from both parties were critical of areas with low infection rates being placed into high tiers because of his regional approach.

Mr Johnson argued: “As we go forward, and I mean this very sincerely, the Government will look at how we can reflect as closely as possible the reality of what is happening on the ground, looking at the incidence of the disease, the human geography and spread of the virus.” 

However, despite promises of ‘granularity’ raising hopes among backbenchers, the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer argued that it is “highly unlikely” that anything would change dramatically in the next two weeks.

According to reports from a leading economic forecaster, the Prime Minister’s decision to introduce the stricter tier system will cost the economy £900 million a day. 

How many people are affected by the harshest restrictions?

More than 23 million people in England, which is 41.5 per cent of the population, are under the highest-tier restrictions.

The total consists of 119 local authority areas, among which Birmingham has the largest population with 1.1 million people. Meanwhile, Melton in Leicestershire has the smallest population, with 51,200 people. 

Only eight of these show signs their Covid-19 cases are rising. Seven are located in South East England and include Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, Gravesham, Maidstone, Medway, Tonbridge & Malling, and Tunbridge Wells. The eighth is Hyndburn in the North West.

A further 32.2 million people, 57.3 per cent of the population, have entered Tier 2.

London has been placed in Tier 2, including Havering, which has a higher R number than 92 of the 119 regions in Tier 3. 

Tier 1/medium level



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