From Saturday London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will move into the second tier of “high” level coronavirus restrictions.
The PA news agency looks at what the laws say.
– What does Tier 2 mean?
Tier 2 is known as the “high” alert level. This is the next step up from Tier 1, the medium level of restrictions initially facing most of the country, like the rule of six and curfews for pubs and restaurants.
The restrictions are set out in laws known as The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020, which came into force on Wednesday and are due to be updated adding more areas for Saturday.
– What restrictions are in place?
No-one can meet people from different households indoors in public and private or travel to any area not bound by the same restrictions to do so, unless they are part of a support bubble known as a linked household.
You can still meet people outdoors but only in groups of up to six people.
– Are there any exceptions?
Yes, several, which are similar to previous and existing rules.
They include any reasonable excuse for a necessary gathering: for work; to provide education, training or charity services; for childcare; to provide emergency assistance and to avoid risk of illness or injury and to escape harm; to provide care to a vulnerable person; in order to move house and to fulfil a legal obligation.
Some “permitted organised gatherings” can take place in larger groups of up to 30 people.
People can also attend a birth at the mother’s request or visit someone who is dying or is receiving care in a hospital, hospice or care home or who needs accompanying to a medical appointment and are a member of their household, a close relative or friend.
Marriage ceremonies and wedding receptions can also continue as long as no more than 15 people attend and they do not take place in a private dwelling.
Support group meetings are also permitted with the same caveats.
Funerals are still allowed, with 30 people allowed to attend as long as it is not in a private dwelling. But wakes are limited to 15 people and cannot take place in a private house.
Organised protests can take place.
Risk assessments should be carried out for large gatherings and those attending should follow government guidance, according to the regulations.
Some indoor sport events can still go ahead and elite athletes can meet others for training and competitions.
– What about Remembrance Sunday?
There is a separate clause in the law for gatherings taking place to commemorate Remembrance Sunday which limits the number of people attending.
Only organisers, people attending as part of their work or providing voluntary services for the event, members of the armed forces, veterans and their carers or representatives are allowed, as well as some spectators who have: attended alone, as part of their household or support bubble or as a group of six.
– How will businesses be affected?
Nightclubs and any other venue that opens at night, plays music and has a dancefloor, must close.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, members clubs and dining areas in hotels serving food and drink must all continue to adhere to the 10pm curfew, although takeaway services can continue.
Supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations can stay open.
– What happens if I break the rules?
You could be handed a £100 fine, the cost of which will double for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Businesses breaking restrictions face fines starting from £1,000 up to £10,000.
Those found to be holding a gathering of more than 30 people against the rules will be fined £10,000, as is currently in place across the country.
These are similar to the fines already in place for existing laws.
– How long will the rules be in place?
They expire in six months.
In the meantime, the Government must review which areas are subjected to the rules at least once every 14 days, with the first due to be carried out by October 28.
The restrictions themselves must be reviewed every 28 days, with the first due to be carried out by November 11.