The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause disruption to the lives of people all over the world.
And, as of today, Wednesday 14th October 2020, additional local restrictions across England will come into effect.
As the country continues to work towards tackling and keeping control of the virus, to prevent another full-scale nationwide lockdown, the government has chosen to impose additional local restrictions across the country.
Each region will be placed into one of three categories in the government’s new three-tier ‘Local COVID Alert Levels’ system, where they will be labelled as; ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’.
Within the West Midlands, Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall have been placed in the Tier 2 category, meaning the area is at high risk.
WHAT ARE THE TIER 2 REGULATIONS?
For those inhabitants of Tier 2 areas, there are strict regulations that have been put in place to reduce and stay in control of the spread of the virus.
The restrictions that were put in place in September have now been tightened, whereby no person can participate in a gathering inside another’s house unless they live together.
A person who lives in a Tier 2 area is also not permitted to travel to somewhere outside of the area to partake in a gathering indoors, even if they are in a Tier 1 category.
As we make our way into the colder, winter months, there has also been additional stipulations on outdoor gatherings.
The ‘rule of 6’ still applies in this case, whereby up to two households can mix in an outdoor, private garden, whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines and ensuring no more than six people are present.
WHICH BUSINESSES ARE RESTRICTED IN TIER 2?
These new restrictions will also affect businesses that operate within each tier, although these are similar to the regulations put in place during the last update.
The types of businesses which are restricted as part of the Tier 2 regulations are:
- dance halls
- sexual entertainment venues
- hostess bars
- and any other venue that opens at night, has a dancefloor or provides music, live or recorded, for dancing
ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO THESE REGULATIONS?
As with all regulations, there are some exceptions to these rules.
Indoor gatherings can only take place if the attendees are all in the same or ‘linked’ household, whereby they are members of two households joined together into a support bubble.
Gatherings that occur indoors are also, by law, allowed to go ahead if it is a permitted, organised event.
An indoor gathering can also be deemed ‘reasonably necessary’ if this occurs due:
- to work, voluntary or charitable purposes
- for education or training purposes
- for childcare, whereby the person is registered under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006
- for supervised activities for children
- for informal childcare provided by a member of the linked childcare household
- to help a person in need of medical attention or emergency assistance
- to enable one or more persons in the gathering avoid illness or injury or escape harm
- to provide care for a vulnerable person
- and to follow arrangements made for parental access and contact between parents and children
It is also possible for people to be exempt from these regulations to fulfil a legal obligation or if the gathering takes place in criminal justice accommodation.
The government has also outlined that the regulations can be manipulated for the exception of births, whereby the person concerned can attend another person giving birth at their discretion.
Weddings and wedding receptions are allowed in the form of small gatherings of 15 people, but all relevant precautions must be followed by the gathering organiser.
These events are not permitted to occur in a private dwelling.
Funerals are slightly different in that the maximum capacity for a venue will be 30 persons, but this again may not occur in a private dwelling.
Other exemptions to indoor gatherings include:
- visiting a person who is believed to be dying, if you are a close friend or family member
- visiting a person receiving treatment in hospital, a hospice or care home or going to a medical appointment if you are a close friend or family member
- Attending a protest if it has been organised by a business, charity or philanthropic institution, public or political body
- permitted indoor sports
- and Remembrance Sunday, whereby gatherings can occur for people as part of their work, for voluntary event services, or as a member of the armed forces. Spectators are allowed as single individuals or as part of a qualifying group.
WHAT ARE THE REPERCUSSIONS IF THE RULES ARE NOT FOLLOWED?
An authorised person, generally a police officer, is able to issue a fixed penalty notice to anyone, aged 18 or over, who is believed to have committed an offence by not following these regulations.
If a person is stopped and issued with a fixed penalty notice, for a first offence, the amount is £100, if paid within a 14 day period. After this, the rate doubles to £200.
If the person has already been issued a penalty notice, the charge will increase to £400, and as follows:
- £800 for the third fixed penalty notice
- £1,600 for the fourth fixed penalty notice
- £3,200 for the fifth fixed penalty notice
- and £6,400, if it is the sixth or any subsequent fixed penalty notice so issued.
For businesses that don’t comply with the regulations, they will also be met with even heftier penalties, starting at:
- £1,000 for the first fixed penalty notice issued
- £2,000 for the second fixed penalty notice issued
- £4,000 for the third fixed penalty notice issued
- and then £10,000 if the fixed penalty notice is the fourth or subsequent one issued to the person in respect of a business restriction offence.
These particular restrictions will be in place for a period of six months, but areas included in Tier 2 will be reviewed once every 14 days, to see whether the region can be dropped to Tier 1 (medium).
The first review is to be expected on 28th October 2020.
The particular restrictions in the Tier 2 category are also up for review at least once every 28 days, with the first expected on 11th November 2020.