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What you can and can’t do in different lockdown tiers – Your questions answered

Written by on 16 October 2020

Large swathes of the UK are back under some form of coronavirus lockdown, leaving people with questions over what they can and cannot do.

England has been broken down into three tiers – medium, high and very high – depending on infection rates.

The majority of the country is in Tier 1 (medium), with the rule of six and 10pm curfew on bars, pubs and restaurants.

Which tier is my area – and what are the rules of the three-tier lockdown?

Large parts of the North, and London, are in Tier 2 (high), with household mixing indoors not allowed.

A smaller number of regions are in Tier 3 (very high), with no mixing of households at all, pubs and bars closed and travel outside the area advised against.

There are some more specific questions people have been asking about the rules. Sky News answers some of those:

Can a cleaner, plumber, builder or electrician still come to my home?

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Yes. People working in homes are exempt from the rule banning the mixing of households indoors in Tier 1 and 2.

Is a nanny allowed into my home, can I look after my friend’s kids or is a grandparent allowed to look after their grandchildren?

Registered childcare providers, including nannies, are allowed to look after children in a private home and garden.

Informal childcare from a friend, babysitter or grandparent is also allowed – as long as they’re part of a support bubble or childcare bubble.

The government has said a childcare bubble can be formed with someone in one household providing informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household.

This must always be the same two households.

Plumbers, cleaners, electricians and builders can still come into your home to work
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Plumbers, cleaners, electricians and builders can still come into your home to work

Can I go to the gym?

Those living in Tier 2 areas can go to the gym but only if it is possible to avoid mixing with people outside their household or bubble.

Outside exercise classes and organised sport is allowed under Tier 2.

For those in Tier 3, it is up to their local authority to decide if they can go to the gym or not.

Liverpool City Region has banned gym visits, but Lancashire has not – so far.

Those in Tier 2 can go to the gym if they can socially distance
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Those in Tier 2 can go to the gym if they can socially distance

Can I go to the pub or to a restaurant?

Those in Tier 2 regions can go to a pub or restaurant, but only with their household or support bubble – with a maximum of six people.

A maximum of six people from different households can go to an outdoor pub or restaurant, as long as they are seated.

People in Tier 3 can only go to pubs that serve substantial meals – not just snacks – and only with their household or support bubble, indoors or outdoors.

They can also go to restaurants with their household or support bubble.

Can I meet up with family or friends I don’t live with?

Under Tier 2 rules, you can socialise with a maximum of five other family and friends outside your household/bubble – but only outdoors, in a private garden or public outdoor place.

Tier 3 rules state that you cannot meet up with anybody else you do not live with or are in a bubble with indoors or outdoors, anywhere.

You can socialise with friends and family you don't live with under Tier 2 but not Tier 3
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You can socialise with friends and family you don’t live with under Tier 2 but not Tier 3

Can I visit people outside my area?

People in Tier 2 areas have been advised to reduce the number of journeys made.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said people should not leave the capital, which is under Tier 2 restrictions, to meet someone in a Tier 1 area to then abide by their rules.

But this is not in the official rules so is not something you can be fined for.

Tier 3 rules say people should avoid travelling out of the area, “other than for things like work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if you are travelling through as part of a longer journey”.

People in Tier 3 areas should also avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and avoid having anyone from outside your area staying at your home.

Can children still go to school?

Yes. Under all the tiers, schools and universities will remain open – something the government has been adamant must remain.

What are the rules on socialising outside and in pub gardens?

Under Tier 2, pub gardens, parks, beaches and private gardens are your friend – you are allowed to socialise there, but not with more than six people from different households.

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Tier 2 lockdown arrives in London

Tier 3 is more restrictive as you cannot socialise with anyone outside your household/bubble – and there can only be a maximum of six of them.

Pubs serving substantial meals, and restaurants, are allowed to stay open so if they have a garden then you can use that – but again only with your household/bubble.

Are the new rules the law or just guidance?

The law. They came into force on 14 October after a majority of MPs voted them through the evening before.

How will the police know that two households are not dining out together?

Police who suspect you are breaking the rules can ask you, and they can make you leave the premises.

In theory, a restaurant or pub owner, or anybody, could alert the police.

Will I be punished for breaking the rules?

Yes.

Under the Health Protection Regulations 2020, police can hand out prohibition notices to people contravening any of the rules in any tier.

That means the person would have to stop doing what they are doing, which could mean a person being removed by force from a gathering.

Police on horses in China Town as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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Police can force people to stop gathering and also give out fines

If they fail to comply with a reasonable instruction or a prohibition notice they can also be fined.

A fine of GBP200 will be issued for the first offence, that will halve to GBP100 if paid within 14 days.

After that, the fines double each time up to GBP6,400.

A business breaking the rules will be fined GBP1,000 for the first time, GBP2,000 the second, GBP4,000 the third and GBP10,000 each time after that.

People can also be prosecuted and face the courts for breaking the rules.