Christmas is cancelled for an estimated 17.7million people after Boris Johnson plunged London and the South East into a new Tier 4.
Under the tougher restrictions Christmas bubbles have been cancelled for anyone under the Tier 4 rules.
Non-essential businesses that were able to stay open under the Tier 3 rules must now close.
Schools, colleges, universities and childcare facilities will remain open.
Place of worship are also allowed to stay open providing they adhere to strict coronavirus rules including social distancing and capping the number of worshippers.
But weddings in Tier 4 are banned except if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as one of both of the couple are terminally-ill.
Boris Johnson announced the news on Saturday afternoon giving just a few hours notice until the rules kick in at midnight.
The tougher rules covers everyone in London, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
There are the new rules for Tier 4.
You must stay at home
The only exception for leaving your home is for a ‘reasonable excuse’.
A reasonable excuse includes work and volunteering,. essential activities, fulfilling legal obligations, education and childcare, meeting others and care, exercise and recreation, medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits and communal worship and life events such as a funeral.
You can leave home to attend a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or a related event for someone who has died, or to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding – but funerals, linked events and weddings are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend (see below).
Meeting others safely
You must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person.
But you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.
You should minimise time spent outside your home and if you are around someone not from your household (or support bubble) you must practice social distancing.
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
You can exercise or visit a public outdoor place by yourself with the people you live with, with your support bubble, or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.
Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit.
Public outdoor places include parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments, the grounds of a heritage site, outdoor sports courts and facilities and playgrounds.
You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
You can form a support bubble with another household if you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living without any adults.
If you live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household.
If the only person you live with is a child under one or if the child has a disability and is under five.
When you can meet in larger groups
There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes.
They are for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services. in a childcare bubble, education or training , for parenting reasons, for birth partners, to provide emergency assistance, to see someone who is dying or to fulfil a legal obligation.
You can also meet for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres, to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer, for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances, for funerals, to visit someone at home who is dying or medical reasons, for elite sportspeople, to move home.
Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must not take place in a private home.
Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit – meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers but they must not be held in private dwellings.
Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit.
This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.
Travelling within a tier 4 area
If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble.
If you need to use public transport, you should social distance and wear a face mask at all times.
Travelling out of a tier 4 area
You should not travel into a Tier 4 area from another part of the UK, other than for reasons such as work, education, caring responsibilities, to visit 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
You should continue to practise safe behaviours on public transport by planning ahead, checking for disruption before you leave, and avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times.
Avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey and sharing a car with people not in your household.
When you travel keep your distance from people not in your household or support bubble and wash or sanitise your hands regularly.
International travel to or from a tier 4 area
If you are in Tier 4, you should not be travelling abroad unless it is permitted.
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.
Staying away from home overnight
You are not allowed to go away on holiday or stay overnight away from your main home in the UK or abroad unless permitted by law.
This includes staying in a second home or caravan, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you are unable to return to your main home, 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.
It’s also allowed for a child requiring accommodation for school or care, someone who is homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge.
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) are also allowed.
Visiting relatives in care homes
Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows.
Close-contact indoor visits supported by testing, which have recently been introduced in Tiers 1-3, will not be allowed in Tier 4.
The government will update their guidance shortly.
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If you break the rules
Anyone found by police meeting in a large group, including illegal gatherings, will be given a fixed fine for £200 for a first offence.
The fine then doubles for subsequent offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
If you have hosted or are involved in organising an illegal gathering with more than 30 people you could be fined £10,000 by police.
Tier 4 has been drawn up by the Government as an easily transmitted strain of Covid-19 tore through London and the South East.
It is claimed to be responsible for 60% of new cases in the capital.
Professor Chris Whitty said that while the spread of the new variant was another “terrible” moment in the epidemic it was not the worst because there were now medical treatments and a vaccine being rolled out.
The new changes will affect 17.7 million.