The Government has confirmed Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire will be placed into Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday 3 December, following the end of national lockdown.
Northamptonshire and Rutland meanwhile will be placed into Tier 2 restrictions.
While retail will begin to re-open, giving high streets a chance to rescue part of the festive trading period, the hospitality industry will mainly remain closed in the region.
Under Tier 3:
- hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed, though permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
- accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training
- indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. This includes:
- indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play
- bingo halls
- bowling alleys
- skating rinks
- amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
- laser quests and escape rooms
- cinemas, theatres and concert halls
- snooker halls
- indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close (indoor shops, through-ways and public toilets at such attractions can remain open). This includes indoor attractions within:
- zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves
- aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions
- model villages
- museums, galleries and sculpture parks
- botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses
- theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs
- visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes
- landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms
- 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
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in some other 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 – this is called the ‘rule of 6’
- leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close
- there should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators
- large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events
- places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies
- weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
- organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place
- organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s
- you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
- avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey
Responding to today’s (26 November) announcement, Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “This will be hugely frustrating and devastating for many businesses in our region that have been placed into the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions, and comes as a further blow despite the relief of national lockdown coming to an end.
“It’s heaping uncertainty upon uncertainty, particularly for these sectors that have been hit hardest due to various restrictions since March this year.
“The festive period is hugely important to companies in sectors such as hospitality, which will be worst hit by restrictions forcing them to close other than for takeaways, and would usually help them build up cashflow during the quieter periods of January and February. Today’s tier allocation sends out the message Christmas is effectively cancelled for this segment of the economy.
“Even with the welcome news of a vaccine on the horizon, the country can’t afford to just sit and wait it out. Going forward, it is essential the Government reviews its tier structure frequently and doesn’t delay in easing restrictions as cases drop because every week that businesses are forced to close has a significant impact. This means it must also be prepared to offer additional targeted financial support where necessary.
“Westminster must be clear and timely in its communication on what the exit strategy is for these areas. Businesses have had enough of the purgatory stemming from the slapdash approach this has involved to date, and need to know well in advance when changes will take place so they can prepare for reopening. With Brexit drawing closer every day and a trade deal still some way off, firms are desperate for some certainty on how they will operate from 2 January.”
Rick Blackmore, CBI East Midlands Director, said: “For many businesses in the East Midlands, going into toughened tiers while waiting for a vaccine will feel like suspended animation.
“Some parts of the economy, such as retail, can begin to re-open and look towards a recovery. It gives our high streets a chance to rescue some of the vital festive trading period.
“But for other businesses the ongoing restrictions in tiers 2 and 3 will leave their survival hanging by a thread. Hospitality will remain frozen. And supply chains that cross regions in different tiers will be hit even if they don’t face direct restrictions.
“It’s vital that these firms receive the financial support they need to make it through to the Spring. Clarity about ongoing employment support, including the Job Retention Bonus, will help protect as many jobs as possible. Businesses need to know what support will be there through to March and beyond in advance, rather than taking it down to the wire.
“Lessons must be learned from previous local lockdowns. Boundary lines between different tiers need to work on the ground. Trigger points for exiting the higher tiers must be transparent.
“Those decisions will need to be clearly communicated each fortnight and taken collaboratively between local, regional and national leaders. Most importantly, evidence must be open and transparent – the cost to jobs is only justifiable if it has a material impact on health.
“Liverpool’s shift to tier 2 is clear evidence that mass testing can make a real difference on the ground.
“So there is encouraging news on mass rapid testing and vaccines, and it’s vital to protect jobs and businesses with an end in sight.”
Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and Chair of the Lincolnshire Outbreak Engagement Board, said: “It’s very disappointing that the whole of Lincolnshire has gone into Tier 3 as we are seeing infection rates fall, especially in those few districts that were previously causing concern – and this could have a crippling effect on our hospitality sector.”
He continued: “Although our figures have been high in some districts and lower elsewhere, there’s a clear levelling off and drop in the numbers as the lockdown restrictions and the considerable efforts of our residents begin to take effect.
“While some of our districts have infection rates well below the England average, why should the whole of Lincolnshire go into Tier 3 for the sake of higher rates in some districts – it doesn’t make sense.
“We’ll need to discuss support for our businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector who will lose most of their trade. This is an important aspect of our economy and we will want to have a conversation about the additional support our businesses would need during this time.
“We appreciate that the furlough and other support is in place until 31 March but many of our businesses will only partially open and need the Christmas economy to survive given the nature of this year.
“As a minimum we will need additional discretionary business support grants so we can assist those most in need and look forward to a conversation about these details so our economy is not disadvantaged.
“It seems like a big blow for Lincolnshire, with our residents working with us all the way to bring down infection rates. Four of our districts have infection rates below the national average and I’m expecting the drop in those other areas to continue, which means we could soon be below the England average.
“We’ll be looking to move out of Tier 3 as soon as possible if the picture continues to improve.
“I must urge everyone to work with us to bring down our infection rates. Keep to the hands, face, space guidance, keep to the restrictions in place, so we can minimise the risk of catching or passing on the virus.
“If you develop any symptoms no matter how mild then please isolate yourself and book a test, and while you wait for the test and the result please continue isolating for the safety of others.
“We will work with everyone towards a better result in two weeks’ time when the tiers are reviewed.”