What is the difference between tier 2 and tier 3 as more cities join the highest tier lockdown list?

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  • Now that areas going into tier 3 as part of the government's latest system have been announced, many are worried about what this means for the next few months and what the differences are between tiers 2 and 3 of lockdown measures.

    The difference between tier 2 and tier 3 restrictions in the new tier lockdown system is mainly to do with how much social mixing you can do – but there are other restrictions as well. 

    It’s already been announced that Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol are just some of the major cities going into localised lockdown and tier 3 restrictions ahead of the Christmas lockdown rules in December. Essex, who were originally in tier two were also moved up this time as was Kent. London and Liverpool will be in tier two, however, as both regions saw a steady levelling off of cases during the national second lockdown.

    The harsher restrictions come as no surprise to some, as the government’s SAGE body warned that the last set of three tier restrictions wasn’t effective enough to reduce the infection rate of the virus.

    But what does tier 2 and tier 3 actually mean? With Christmas and the festive season fast approaching, will we be able to get together with friends? Will pubs open? Here’s what you need to know about the difference between tier 2 and 3 under the new lockdown system for December…

    What is the difference between tier 2 and 3 lockdown?

    people eating outside during tier 2 of new lockdown measures

    Credit: Getty

    The main difference between tier 2 and tier 3 is where you can meet people who don’t live in your household or support bubble.

    In tier 2, people can meet in groups of six outside – in a public space or a private garden. This could include gardens of pubs and restaurants as in tier 2, all hospitality venues are allowed to stay open as long as they offer a substantial meal with all sales of alcohol. In the lower tiers pubs and bars can stay open for drinks and food until 11pm now, last orders must be given at 10pm.

    In tier 3, this is not allowed as all pubs and hospitality venues have to close except for until the region goes back into lower levels of restrictions. People in tier 3 can still meet outside, however, in public parks and spaces as long as they’re not in groups exceeding six people.

    In both tiers, schools will not close again even if coronavirus cases continue to rise. This is the same for all colleges and universities, as well as any workplaces where people cannot work from home.

    Gyms, leisure centres and non-essential shops, along with personal care businesses like hair dressers are also allowed to stay open in both tiers 2 and 3.