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What does Tier 3 even mean?!

As we all know, from this Thursday (3rd December) we will tentatively step out of the second national lockdown of this COVID-19 pandemic into Tier 3. But will life in our region change all that much?

Written by High Life North
Published 01.12.2020

As we all know, from this Thursday (3rd December) we will tentatively step out of the second national lockdown of this COVID-19 pandemic and, here in the North East, dip our toes into Tier 3. But will life in our region change all that much?

The biggest differences we’re likely to notice here in the North East will be:

The reopening of non-essential retail

As well as your big high street brands and local independents, this also includes indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales.

Gyms are back up and running

Gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres and outdoor playgrounds will all reopen. But group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should also stay closed.

Christmas haircuts are back on the cards

Personal care and close-contact services, such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, massage parlours and tanning salons, will all be allowed to reopen.

Essential public services will resume

NHS and medical services will reopen, as will courts and jobcentre plus sites.

It will be easier to stay out and about

Now that allotments, recycling and waste centres, public toilets and car parks will be open again.

Public buildings will also reopen, including places of worship

Communal worship can now resume and libraries, community centres and halls can reopen, but will not be allowed to host events for private hire.


Tier 3 translates to an area in Very High Alert, where there is either an already very high, or a very rapidly rising, level of infections of COVID-19. So these measures are basically as strict as they get (at the moment). In Tier 3:

No social meetings…

You must not meet socially indoors, or in most outdoor places, with anybody you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble. This includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues.

…but the Rule of 6 still applies

You can socialise in some outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility, but only in groups of 6 people or less.

Pints are still off the table

Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafés and restaurants, are still closed. But they are allowed to continue selling takeaways, click-and-collect orders and drive-through or delivery orders.

No chance of a winter getaway, either…

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses aren’t allowed to open. But there are some exceptions. Those who use these venues as their main residence will still be allowed to do so, and those requiring the venues where it is necessary for work or education will still have access to them.


…not in the UK, anyway

Everyone should avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, other than where necessary – such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.

Indoor entertainment venues remain shut…

This includes: indoor play centres (including trampolining parks and soft play); cinemas, theatres and concert halls; casinos; bingo halls; bowling alleys; skating rinks; amusement arcades and adult gaming centres; laser quests and escape rooms; and snooker halls.

…as do indoor attractions

Including areas of zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves; aquariums, farms; model villages; museums, galleries and sculpture parks; botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses; theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs; film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes; and landmarks, including observation decks and viewing platforms.

You can get a kickabout in…

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place.


…but indoor sport’s a no-go

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place. But there are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s.

No chance of watching the football, either

There should be no public attendance at spectator sports or indoor performances, and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue without spectators. Large outdoor performances, shows and other events should also not take place, with the exception of drive-in events.

No more wedding breakfasts…

Weddings and funerals can still go ahead, but with restrictions on the number of people who can attend. For weddings, it’s 15 for the ceremony and – crucially – receptions are not allowed.


…but funerals and wakes can still go ahead

For funerals, 30 people can go to the service and 15 can attend linked commemorative events.

We’re being encouraged to limit our travel

So we can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys we make where possible.

Going abroad for Christmas?

For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

Some exemptions

There are still some exemptions from gathering limits in all tiers. For more information on this, look over the government’s local restriction tier system guidance online.

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