As a result of a variant of the coronavirus, which has led to a rapid acceleration of Covid-19 cases in London, the East and the South East, the Government announced the introduction of a Tier 4 which imposes greater restrictions on the public than Tiers 1 to 3.

The regulations will be reviewed on 30 December 2020.  

The areas in Tier 4 are: 

  • London (all 32 Boroughs and the City of London);
  • In the South East: Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings;
  • In the East: Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

For those in a Tier 4 area, there are restrictions on travel as follows:

it is illegal for someone in Tier 4 to leave the place that they are living without reasonable excuse;

However, the following exemptions apply:

o To buy certain goods (eg food and medicine) and services (banking);

o Exercise;

o Worship;

o Matters related to house sale or residential rentals;

o Were required for work;

o Elite Athletes;

o Medical treatment;

o Support/respite/ death bed visit;

o Funerals and weddings; 

o Returning home to a Tier 4 area.

The regulations states that accommodation providers in Tier 4, such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for specific reasons, 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.

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, and market stalls selling non-essential goods can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.

The following businesses will close:

  • 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;
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor tennis and basketball courts, indoor fitness and dance studios, 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 botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks.

However, outdoor pars and garden are permitted to stay open.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies should not take place except in exceptional circumstances, for example where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover ('deathbed wedding') or due to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery. These weddings are limited to 6 people.

Conference centres and exhibition halls are required to close so far as they are used to host conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining events or banquets, other than conferences, trade shows or events which are attended only by employees of the person who owns or is responsible for running the conference centre or exhibition hall;

There are also further changes to the rules for the devolved nations as follows:


  • Scotland has announced that there will be a ban on cross border travel to and from Scotland over the Christmas period
  • All of the Scottish mainland will move to level four restrictions from 26 December which stops households mixing, closes pubs and restaurants and closes non-essential retail. This will last for at least 3 weeks;
  • Scotland will also reduce the five-day Christmas bubble period to Christmas Day only.


  • The lockdown previously announced for Wales has been brought forward and is now in effect;
  • The Christmas bubble period has been reduced to Christmas Day.

Northern Ireland

  • No additional restrictions have been announced at present


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