Lockdown and Social Distancing

Government announcement on move to Plan A – 19 January 2022

England is returning to Plan A coronavirus restrictions:

Working from home guidance ends on 19 January and from 20 January, pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms. Guidance on the rest of schools is due from the government’s education department.

From 27 January there will be:

  • an end of mandatory face masks
  • the end of mandatory Covid passes in England
  • easing of care home restrictions.

And while there will still be a legal requirement to self-isolate, the prime minister says he does not expect to renew the regulations beyond 24 March when they currently expire.

Visit the GOV.UK website for the latest guidance


Government announcement on move to Plan B – 8 December 2021

The Prime Minister has announced a move to Plan B measures, as outlined in the Covid-19 Autumn/Winter Plan.

In summary, the measures announced on 8 December are:

  • From 10 Dec, mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor settings (but will not include hospitality settings).
  • From 13 Dec, guidance is for people to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.
  • From 15 Dec, introduction of mandatory certification for certain settings. This will mean a requirement to show vaccination status or a recent negative test to enter certain high risk settings.

These measures are in addition to:

  • A continued push on testing. This includes people testing before they meet others, socialise or go to crowded or enclosed places.
  • A continued push on vaccines and boosters.
  • Continued messaging on ventilation – let in fresh air when meeting indoors.

New safety measures – 30 November 2021

New and temporary measures have been introduced from 30 November as a precaution to slow down the spread of a newly identified variant of COVID-19, Omicron.

  • All international arrivals must take a Day-2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status or age and will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as and on public transport unless you are exempt. All hospitality settings will be exempt.
  • All staff, visitors and pupils or students in secondary school years 7 and above are strongly advised to wear a face covering in communal areas, unless exempt.
  • South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola have been added to the UK’s travel red list. Passengers returning from any of these countries will need to isolate in a quarantine hotel. Quarantine exemptions due to compassionate and medical reasons apply. More details here.

Rules on face coverings are being updated in England – 30 November 2021

The public and staff in public facing areas will be required to wear face coverings in these settings from 4am on 30 November 2021:

  • shops and supermarkets (places that offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • post offices, banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • estate and letting agents
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (barbers, hair salons, tattoo and piercing studios, nail salons, massage centres)
  • pharmacies
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • retail galleries
  • retail travel agents
  • takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses), taxis and private hire vehicles
  • any car, van or HGV, during a professional driving lesson, a formal driving test, or during one of the practical tests for giving driving instruction

What a face covering is

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which securely covers the nose and mouth. There are many types of face coverings available. Cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers (at least 2) and form a good fit around the face. Face coverings should be made of a material that you find comfortable and breathable, such as cotton. Bandanas or religious garments may be used but are likely to be less effective if they do not fit securely around the face.

Find out more about the differences between surgical face masks, PPE face masks, and face coverings.

The reason for using face coverings

When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) which may contain the virus that causes COVID-19. These particles can be breathed in by another person. Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected cough or sneeze near them, or if they touch them after coughing or sneezing onto their hands.

By covering your nose and mouth with a face covering, you’ll reduce the spread of droplets and aerosols carrying the virus by limiting the amount of the virus being released when you talk and breathe, helping to protect others.

You and your household should self-isolate at home If you develop any of the most important symptoms:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

You should arrange to have a PCR test to check for COVID-19. Wearing a face covering does not change this.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate until 10 days after the day on which you first developed symptoms.

When you should wear a face covering

Members of the public should continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. For example, on public transport. Businesses, including transport operators, can also ask their employees and customers to wear face coverings. You should check with operators of services, venues, and settings that you use.

The Department for Transport has updated its guidance on safer travel for passengers.

Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance advises that patients and visitors across all healthcare settings should wear a face covering, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs. They should also be worn in care homes to protect residents from the risk of infection.

The Department for Education (DfE) has its own guidance on the use of face coverings for schools and other education institutions that provide education for secondary school-age pupils, young people and adults in England.

Face visors, shields and transparent face coverings

A face visor or shield only provides limited protection compared to a face covering. This is because they do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles. Transparent face coverings can aid communication for those that require lip-reading or facial expressions. However, their effectiveness is not supported by evidence. To be most effective, a face covering should fit securely around the face to cover the nose and mouth. It should be made of a breathable material capable of filtering airborne particles.

If you’re not able to wear a face covering

Face coverings are expected and recommended in indoor spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. However, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be respectful of these situations. Some people are less able to wear face coverings. The reasons for this may not always be visible.

This includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • where the putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • instances where people are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • police officers and other emergency workers – this may interfere with their ability to serve the public

There are also situations when you may be asked to remove a face covering, for example:

  • when in a bank, building society, or post office for identification purposes
  • when asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification purposes, for assessing health recommendations (for example. by a pharmacist), or for age identification purposes, such as when buying age-restricted products, such as alcohol
  • if required to receive treatment or services, for example when getting a facial treatment

Exemption cards

If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering you do not need to show:

  • any written evidence of this
  • an exemption card

This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering. However, some people may feel more comfortable if they are able to show something that explains why they’re not wearing a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a homemade sign. Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.

If you wish to use an exemption card or badge, you can download an exemption card template. You can then print these yourself or show them on a mobile device. Please note that the government is not able to provide physical exemption cards or badges.

How to wear a face covering

Face coverings with multiple layers and which fit closelly around the face work best. It is important that any face covering is worn correctly and handled with care. A face covering should:

  • cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably (a nose wire may help with fit)
  • fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
  • be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
  • be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
  • ideally include at least 2 layers of fabric (the World Health Organization recommends 3, depending on the fabric used)
  • unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged. Single-use disposable masks should not be washed and reused

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession (for example, when leaving and entering shops on a high street)

When removing a face covering:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not give it to someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
  • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed

Face covering rules for businesses, venues and the workplace

Businesses and employers must complete a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks to the health and safety of their workforce and customers in their workplace or setting, including the risks of COVID-19.

Businesses can require or encourage customers, clients or their workers to wear a face covering.

When completing a risk assessment, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities.

If your business chooses to implement certain health and safety measures, you would need to consider carefully how this fits with:

  • your business’ general health and safety duties
  • other obligations to staff and customers arising from employment rights and equalities laws

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance.

Where businesses require their workers to wear face coverings there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Businesses should be mindful and respectful of these. If your workers (including contractors) or customers choose to wear a face covering, you should support them in using face coverings safely.

Normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.

Maintaining and disposing of face coverings

Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin. Do not put them in a recycling bin.

Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products. If eating in a cafe, for example, it is important that you do not place the face covering on the table.

Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged.

The government has also published guidance on the safe disposal of waste for the public and businesses.


Roadmap to Recovery – 12 July 2021

The UK will move to the next stage of the roadmap on 19 July. The Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings.

This means that at Step 4:

  • All remaining limits on social contact will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
  • All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs.
  • Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
  • The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings.
  • Social distancing rules will be lifted.
  • Businesses will be encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.
  • It is no longer necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home and employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.

The health secretary stated that it is important people act with caution. This means:

  • A gradual return to work if people are working from home
  • Trying to meet people outside
  • It is recommended people wear face coverings in crowded indoor settings unless they are exempt

The requirement to self-isolate if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace will remain in place until 16 August, when it will be relaxed for people who have had both vaccine doses.

Guidance is available on the Government website.


Roadmap to Recovery – 14 June 2021

The Government has announced a four-week pause at Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown, meaning that existing restrictions remain in place. It is expected that we will now move to Step 4 on 19 July, though the data will be reviewed after two weeks.

However, some Step 3 restrictions will see rules changes on 21 June, including:

  • weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions/celebrations
  • commemorative events following a death such as a wake or ash scattering
  • large events pilots
  • care home visits
  • domestic residential visits for children

Please see the latest GOV.UK guidance for further information on these changes.


Roadmap to Recovery: Key Dates and Phases – 22 February 2021

On 22 February the Prime Minister announced the timetable for easing lockdown in England. The roadmap outlines four phases for easing restrictions. Before proceeding to the next step, four conditions must be met at each phase of lockdown easing:

  1. The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  4. New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions

Phase 1 (part 1): 8 March

All schools will reopen, and outdoor after-school activities will be allowed. Secondary school pupils and older will have to wear masks in classes.

Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor, with whom they can hold hands.

One person can sit down with another individual from outside their household or bubble for a coffee, drink or picnic. Children will still count towards this.

The “stay at home” order will otherwise stay in place.

Phase 1 (part 2): 29 March

Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, in parks and gardens.

Outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed including outdoor swimming pools.

The official stay at home order will end, but people will be encouraged to stay local.

People will still be asked to work from home where possible.

Phase 2: No earlier than 12 April

Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and pools, public buildings such as libraries and museums, and zoos and theme parks.

Most outdoor venues will reopen, including pubs and restaurants but only for outdoor tables and beer gardens. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol.

Reopening of holiday lets with no shared facilities, but only for one household.

Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.

Wider social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings, meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed.

Phase 3: No earlier than 17 May

Most mixing rules lifted outdoors, with a limit of 30 people meeting in parks or gardens.

Indoor mixing will be allowed, up to six people or two households.

Indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants, hotels, cinemas and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues.

Domestic overnight stays will be allowed and this will be the earliest date at which international holidays could resume.

For sport, indoor venues can have up to 1,000 spectators or half capacity, whichever is lower; outdoors the limit will be 4,000 people or half capacity, whichever is lower. Very large outdoor seated venues, such as big football stadiums, where crowds can be spread out, will have a limit of 10,000 people, or a quarter full, whichever is fewer.

Weddings will be allowed a limit of 30 people, with other events such as christenings and barmitzvahs also permitted.

Phase 4: No earlier than 21 June – Delayed to 19 July 

All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.

There are likely to be changes to wider social distancing measures.

National Lockdown: What You Can and Cannot Do – 4 January 2020

On 4 January 2021 the Prime Minister announced a third National Lockdown across England, in light of the rising COVID-19 infection rates due to the new variant of the virus.

Stay at home

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

You can view the full details including international travel, overnight stays and work here.


London to enter Tier 4 on 20 December 2020

The Prime Minister has announced tougher restrictions for large parts of South East England with a new Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level. The decision follows a rapid rise in infections attributed to the rapid spread of a new variant of Covid-19.

People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Non-essential retail, indoor leisure, indoor entertainment, and personal care sectors must all close.

Tier 4 rules will be reviewed on 30 December, as part of the wider review of all restrictions. Full details of the restrictions can be found here.

Given the risk the new variant poses, the Christmas bubble policy will no longer apply in Tier 4. For Tiers 1, 2 and 3, Christmas bubbles can continue with up to three households able to meet, but for one day only on Christmas Day.

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. The businesses required to close 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, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods – these venues can continue to be able 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 providing accommodation or support to the homeless, 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 sports courts, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor riding centres, and 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 venues such as 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. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. 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

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be 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 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, 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
  • places of worship
  • crematoriums and burial grounds

Travelling within a Tier 4 area

If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse. If you need to travel you should stay local and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

  • work, where you cannot work from home
  • accessing education and for caring responsibilities
  • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • buying goods or services from premises that are open in Tier 4 areas, including essential retail, but these should be within your local area wherever possible
  • outdoor recreation or exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your Tier 4 area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

Travelling out of a Tier 4 area or to a Tier 4 area

You should not travel into a Tier 4 area from another part of the UK, other than for the below reasons.

You must stay at home and not leave your Tier 4 area, other than for the legally permitted reasons below:

  • to travel to work where you cannot work from home
  • to travel to education and for caring responsibilities
  • to visit (including staying overnight with) 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

International travel to or from a Tier 4 area

If you live in a Tier 4 area, you can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

If you live outside a Tier 4 area you may still transit into or through a Tier 4 area to travel abroad if you need to, but you should carefully consider whether you need to do so. In addition, you should follow the public health advice in the country you’re visiting.

If you do need to travel overseas from a Tier 4 area (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.

UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.

Staying away from home overnight

You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or stays overnight away from your main home unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence, or staying with anyone you do not live with (other than those with whom you have formed a support bubble)

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:

  • are unable to return to your main residence
  • need accommodation while moving house
  • need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
  • require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
  • are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
  • are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
  • are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition

If you are already on holiday in a Tier 4 area, you should return to your home as soon as practical

Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with Local Authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups including the homeless in Tier 4 areas.


London to enter Tier 3 on 16 December 2020

London will be placed in Tier 3 from 00:01 on Wednesday 16 December. Please see below an overview of the restrictions in Tier 3:

Meeting friends and family

You must not meet socially indoors, in a private garden and at most outdoor public venues with anybody you do not live with or have a support bubble with. A maximum of six people can meet in some outdoor public spaces such as parks.

Businesses and venues that must close

  • Hospitality venues, such as bars (including shisha bars), pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or member’s clubs.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses must close with limited exceptions.
  • Indoor tourist attractions and indoor entertainment venues – such as casinos and cinemas.

Venues that can stay open

  • Shops
  • Outdoor entertainment venues
  • Gyms and sports places but group activities and classes should not take place
  • Hairdressers and nail bars
  • Community centres and libraries


People are advised not to travel to and from Tier 3 areas, other than where necessary such as for work or education.

Please visit the Government website for further guidance on Tier 3 restrictions.

Use this tool to find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area.


London to be placed in Tier 2 from 2 December 2020

On 23 November the Prime Minister announced that non-essential retail, gyms and leisure centres will reopen, and outdoor sports will be allowed on 2 December.

On 26 November it was confirmed London will enter Tier 2 once lockdown ends on 2 December. The tiers will next be reviewed on 16 December. Please see below an overview of the restrictions in Tier 2:


  • Pubs and bars can only remain open if they serve alcohol with substantial meals.
  • Households aren’t allowed to mix indoors and a maximum of 6 can meet outdoors. This applies to public spaces, gardens and hospitality businesses.
  • The previous 10pm curfew for hospitality venues will change to a 10pm ‘last orders’ call with closing times at 11pm.
  • Hospitality businesses can continue to sell food and drinks after 10pm through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
  • Hospitality businesses must provide table service only and close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt).

Venues and Events

  • The 11pm closure applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres & museums. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm.
  • Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events is permitted with spectator capacity limits. At tier 2 these will be 50% capacity or 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, whichever is lower.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead. 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies.


  • Travel to work, venues and amenities is allowed but people should aim to reduce the number of journeys made where possible.
  • If you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Travel to a tier 3 area should be for essential reasons only, such as work, education or for medical treatment or care.

The full list of local restriction tiers by area can be found here.

The Government has published its Covid Winter Plan for managing COVID-19 through the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021.


Forming a Christmas bubble with friends and family – December 2020

Between 23 and 27 December:

  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier where you are staying
  • you cannot meet someone in a private dwelling who is not part of your household or Christmas bubble

Read the full guidance here.


Four Week Lockdown from 5 November 2020

On 31 October the Prime Minister announced a four week lockdown for England, from 00:01 Thursday 5 November to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of the four week lockdown period the position defaults to the three tier system.

During lockdown, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons, including:

  • For education
  • For work if you cannot work from home
  • For exercise and recreation outdoors
  • For medical reasons
  • To shop for food and essentials
  • To care for others

Which COVID-secure businesses can remain open?

  • Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops.
  • Off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries).
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
  • News agents.
  • Schools, colleges, and universities.
  • Hardware stores.
  • Building merchants, and building services.
  • Petrol stations.
  • Car repair and MOT services.
  • Bicycle shops.
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.
  • Veterinary surgeons and pet shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this Part.
  • Car parks.
  • Garden centres.

Which businesses must close?

  • All non-essential retail. These venues can continue to operate click-and-collect and delivery services.
  • Hospitality venues; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway before 10pm, 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 they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure and sports facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.

Please click here for an exhaustive list of businesses that can remain open, restrictions on service and exemptions or view the legislation in full.

Everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so – including but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace.


You should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport.

Essential travel includes, but is not limited to:

  • Essential shopping;
  • Travelling to work where your workplace is open or you cannot work from home;
  • Travelling to education and for caring responsibilities;
  • Hospital GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health.

Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed, including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes.

You can read the full guidance published here.


Three-Tier Lockdown System – 12 October 2020

On 12 October the Prime Minister announced a new three-tier lockdown system for England:

  • Most areas of England are on medium alert, which covers most of the country and consists of current national measures – including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.
  • The high alert level, consists of no social mixing between households indoors. London moved to Tier 2 Covid-19 measures on Saturday 17 October 2020, find out more below.
  • The very high alert level prohibits social mixing indoors and in private gardens, with pubs and bars also closing in these areas. Please note that all retail, schools and universities will remain open, even at this highest level.

You can find out more on each alert level here and on the Government website. Use the Government’s postcode checker to find out the coronavirus restrictions in a local area.


COVID Alert Level: HIGH – October 2020

You must not meet indoors with anybody who doesn’t belong to your household or support bubble. This includes someone’s home or in an indoor public place. There are certain exceptions, which are detailed below.

Outdoors, you can meet friends and family (who are not from your household or support bubble) in groups of up to 6 people, including a garden or other outside space. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.

You should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible. If you need to travel, please consider walking or cycling where possible. If you need to take public transport, please plan ahead, wear a face covering and avoid busy times and routes.

If you are required to travel into an area at a different local COVID alert level (for example to go to work or school), you should follow the guidance for whichever area has the higher alert level.

Natalia Clifford, Deputy Director of Public Health for Westminster explains the Tier 2 rules:


Exceptions to meeting indoors

There are certain exceptions where people from different households/bubbles can meet indoors:

  • For business. Government confirmed that indoor business lunches & dinners are still permitted for up to six people
  • For work in someone’s house or volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services
  • For registered childcare, education or training
  • For arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents / guardians
  • For supervised activities provided for children, including youth groups and activities, children’s playgroups and informal childcare through childcare bubbles
  • For birth partners
  • To see someone who is dying
  • To provide emergency assistance, to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • To provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable who cannot cope without support
  • To fulfill a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • To facilitate a house move
  • For outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport, and licensed outdoor physical activity
  • Indoor organised team sports for disabled people, and youth sport
  • Support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • For a wedding or equivalent ceremony and wedding receptions where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • For funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • For prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • For protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-secure guidance

Visiting venues

Venues such as pubs & restaurants, leisure & entertainment centres, community facilities and places of worship can host more people in total, following COVID-secure guidance, but you cannot mix or mingle with anyone who is not from your household or support bubble in these venues.

Meeting people outside your households in pubs and restaurants is not allowed but Government confirmed that indoor business lunches & dinners are still permitted for up to six people.

You should provide your contact details to the venue or check-in using the official NHS COVID-19 app, so that NHS Test and Trace can contact your group if needed.

Going into work

If you can work from home, please do so. If you cannot work from home, you should go to your place of work.

There is no limit to the group size when you are meeting or gathering for work purposes, but workplaces should meet COVID-secure guidelines.

Essential work meetings of up to 30 are permitted indoors.

In-home workers can continue to go into someone else’s house for work, such as repair services, cleaners, childcare providers etc.

Going to university, college, schools or nurseries

The advice for attending schools, nurseries and other educational settings has not changed.

However, adults, staff, and pupils are now asked to wear face coverings when moving around indoors within secondary schools, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult. Face coverings are not needed within the classroom. This advice applies to secondary schools only.

Group sport and physical activity

Outdoor activities:

  • Adults can continue to take part in outdoor organised sport and licensed physical outdoor activity in groups of more than six, provided it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.
  • You should ensure you socially distance with people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) and must not mingle in groups of more than 6 before and after the activity.
  • Organised events of more than six people can take place outdoors in any public place (with the owner’s permission).

Indoor activities:

  • Organised indoor sport and indoor exercise classes can continue to take place (at a facility such as a gym, leisure centre or community hall) with larger numbers present, provided groups of more than six do not mix.
  • You cannot hold a session with more than six people within a private home.
  • There are exceptions to enable disability and youth sport and physical activity indoors, in any number.
  • Please refer to the group exercise guidance here.

Advice for shielding / clinically extremely vulnerable groups:

Anyone who is clinically vulnerable:

  • Must not meet with people indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble. But they may continue to see friends and family you do not live with outside, but in a group of up to 6 people.
  • Can go outside as much as they like but keep their overall social interactions low.
  • Can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible (or 1 metre plus other precautions),
  • Should continue to wash their hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in their home and/or workspace.

At each local COVID alert level, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow.


Social Distancing – June 2020

Retail and public premises which remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants (From 4 July the 2m distancing rule is being reduced to 1m plus.)
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

While our business members and partners are busy taking care of internal social distancing arrangements, the BID has led on the external environment. By the 1 June, we installed over 250 queue markers for more than 70 businesses, in over 100 different locations.

We canvassed as many businesses as possible and were delighted with the take-up, as businesses grapple with the new social distancing challenges inside their premises and the external queues that this creates. Every business in receipt of our purple queue markers benefited from an advance site survey and discussion with our team about queue direction and length. Neighbouring businesses were able to collaborate on queue direction, to prevent queue collision and entry blocking.

Westminster City Council has also published guidance on queue management to support businesses reviewing queuing arrangements for their respective premises.

Failure to hold an appropriate SIA licence where required to do so is a criminal offence contrary to the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

The SIA have produced a useful document, Advice to Retailers Hiring Additional Staff to Manage Queues, which provides guidance as to licensing requirements.

Find out more about queue management with social distancing here.

We also invited businesses from a variety of sectors to join us on 6 May 2020 for a virtual discussion on social distancing. You can read our findings here.

Social distancing at The Hilton London Metropole