London in Tier 4: what are the new rules, and how do they affect you

London was the first city to be plunged into Tier 4, but a further 20 million people moved under the toughest restrictions on Dec 31 as a new variant of coronavirus sweeps across the country. On December 29, the UK reached a daily record of Covid-19 infections, with 53,135 new lab-confirmed cases. A further 981 people also died within 28 days of testing positive with the virus on Dec 30, the highest daily death toll since April. The number of coronavirus patients in London hospitals has also now exceeded the record number set during the first wave.   Tier 4 means non-essential retail and indoor gyms are closed, and people are not be able to meet more than one person from another household in an outdoor public space. Residents in Tier 4 cannot mix with anyone outside of their support bubbles and should not leave their tier. Tier 4 now includes Greater London, Essex, Lancashire, the Midlands, the North East and parts of the North West. Use our postcode tool to find out which tier your area is in. What tier is London in? London is under Tier 4 restrictions. As of the latest announcements three quarters of England's population is now living under Tier 4. Following a rise in cases, the Government decided to place the capital into the highest tier of restrictions.  London was seeing a rise in cases even during November's national lockdown, figures showed. Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia said: “There were more cases at the end of lockdown than at the start in London. “It is very worrying when cases were still continuing to increase in these regions despite the national lockdown. It is quite likely that case numbers will start to accelerate even more in coming days.” In the lead up to the change, a health source had said Public Health England “is starting to get worried about it again” as the data showed cases on the rise in the capital. A crowd of people outside Harrods in London on December 5 Credit: Elliott Franks  What is causing the rise in cases? A rapid increase in a mutant strain of the virus appears to be responsible for a surge in coronavirus cases in London and the South East of England, the Prime Minister announced on December 19. Though the new strain does not have a higher mortality rate, it is 70 per cent more transmittable than the original virus. The latest data shows that there has also been an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in secondary school children in the London and South East region, compared to other age groups.  How long will London be in Tier 4? London will remain in Tier 4 until a review on January 13, following an announcement from the Health Secretary. The Prime Minister urged that New Year's Eve would not be exempt from restrictions on socialising. Tier 4 restrictions could be toughened further and remain in place until close to Easter, Government sources have admitted. Ministers believe at least 20 million people will need to have been vaccinated against coronavirus before any significant relaxing of the measures can be considered, it is understood. Matt Hancock said on December 20 that Britain faces a “very difficult” few months, warning that the spread of the virus across swathes of England is now “out of control”. Is all of London in the same tier? All of London has been placed in the same tier. This is largely because of the city's expansive travel connections, particularly the London Underground, which make containing specific areas difficult.   Mr Johnson previously said London is “held together by a very dense mass transit system”, which would make it difficult to split the city into different tiers. “Although there are fewer people on it right now the transmission within London means that it's quite difficult to separate one bit of London from another,” he said.  How are tiers determined? Five categories are used to determine which level an area falls into. Ministers have made the decisions based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors: The rate of infection, particularly among the over-60s How quickly case rates are rising or falling Positivity in the general population Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected NHS capacity Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreaks If any of these five indicators are not improving, or are showing signs of getting significantly worse, an area may be moved into a higher tier. This happened in the case of Greater Manchester before the second national lockdown.  Only the Isles of Scilly remain in Tier 1, the one level at which indoor socialising with other households is permitted. What does Tier 4 mean? Tier 4 is the toughest set of local restrictions in England, resulting in a ban of people meeting inside or outside, unless they are in a support bubble. Under Tier 4 restrictions, non-essential shops, close contact services such as hairdressers, and gyms must close. Pubs, bars and restaurants will only be

London in Tier 4: what are the new rules, and how do they affect you

London was the first city to be plunged into Tier 4, but a further 20 million people moved under the toughest restrictions on Dec 31 as a new variant of coronavirus sweeps across the country.

On December 29, the UK reached a daily record of Covid-19 infections, with 53,135 new lab-confirmed cases. A further 981 people also died within 28 days of testing positive with the virus on Dec 30, the highest daily death toll since April.

The number of coronavirus patients in London hospitals has also now exceeded the record number set during the first wave.  

Tier 4 means non-essential retail and indoor gyms are closed, and people are not be able to meet more than one person from another household in an outdoor public space.

Residents in Tier 4 cannot mix with anyone outside of their support bubbles and should not leave their tier.

Tier 4 now includes Greater London, Essex, Lancashire, the Midlands, the North East and parts of the North West.

Use our postcode tool to find out which tier your area is in.

What tier is London in?

London is under Tier 4 restrictions. As of the latest announcements three quarters of England's population is now living under Tier 4.

Following a rise in cases, the Government decided to place the capital into the highest tier of restrictions. 

London was seeing a rise in cases even during November's national lockdown, figures showed.

Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia said: “There were more cases at the end of lockdown than at the start in London.

“It is very worrying when cases were still continuing to increase in these regions despite the national lockdown. It is quite likely that case numbers will start to accelerate even more in coming days.”

In the lead up to the change, a health source had said Public Health England “is starting to get worried about it again” as the data showed cases on the rise in the capital.

A crowd of people outside Harrods in London on December 5 Credit: Elliott Franks 

What is causing the rise in cases?

A rapid increase in a mutant strain of the virus appears to be responsible for a surge in coronavirus cases in London and the South East of England, the Prime Minister announced on December 19. Though the new strain does not have a higher mortality rate, it is 70 per cent more transmittable than the original virus.

The latest data shows that there has also been an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in secondary school children in the London and South East region, compared to other age groups. 

How long will London be in Tier 4?

London will remain in Tier 4 until a review on January 13, following an announcement from the Health Secretary. The Prime Minister urged that New Year's Eve would not be exempt from restrictions on socialising.

Tier 4 restrictions could be toughened further and remain in place until close to Easter, Government sources have admitted.

Ministers believe at least 20 million people will need to have been vaccinated against coronavirus before any significant relaxing of the measures can be considered, it is understood.

Matt Hancock said on December 20 that Britain faces a “very difficult” few months, warning that the spread of the virus across swathes of England is now “out of control”.

Is all of London in the same tier?

All of London has been placed in the same tier. This is largely because of the city's expansive travel connections, particularly the London Underground, which make containing specific areas difficult.  

Mr Johnson previously said London is “held together by a very dense mass transit system”, which would make it difficult to split the city into different tiers.

“Although there are fewer people on it right now the transmission within London means that it's quite difficult to separate one bit of London from another,” he said. 

How are tiers determined?

Five categories are used to determine which level an area falls into. Ministers have made the decisions based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors:

  1. The rate of infection, particularly among the over-60s
  2. How quickly case rates are rising or falling
  3. Positivity in the general population
  4. Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected NHS capacity
  5. Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreaks

If any of these five indicators are not improving, or are showing signs of getting significantly worse, an area may be moved into a higher tier. This happened in the case of Greater Manchester before the second national lockdown. 

Only the Isles of Scilly remain in Tier 1, the one level at which indoor socialising with other households is permitted.

What does Tier 4 mean?

Tier 4 is the toughest set of local restrictions in England, resulting in a ban of people meeting inside or outside, unless they are in a support bubble. Under Tier 4 restrictions, non-essential shops, close contact services such as hairdressers, and gyms must close.

Pubs, bars and restaurants will only be able to serve takeaway services, and hotels will have to close their doors until the tier level in the local area drops back into Tier 2.  

Indoor entertainment venues, such as theatres and cinemas, have to close. Amateur outdoor sports will be allowed to take place, but spectators will not be able to attend any sporting event. 

Essential shops are allowed to remain open, as are schools, universities and workplaces, although people are advised to work from home where possible. 

Schools in Tier 4

Although the government have stated that primary school children will return to education on January 4, a contingency plan has been drawn up by the Department for Education for most London boroughs and areas of the South East which states that only vulnerable children and those of critical workers will be allowed to attend. 

The following areas are covered by the contingency plan: 

  • Barking and Dagenham
  • Barnet
  • Bexley
  • Brent
  • Bromley
  • Croydon
  • Ealing
  • Enfield
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Havering
  • Hillingdon
  • Hounslow
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Merton
  • Newham
  • Richmond-Upon-Thames
  • Southwark
  • Sutton
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Waltham Forest
  • Wandsworth
  • Westminster
  • Brentwood
  • Epping Forest
  • Castle Point
  • Basildon
  • Rochford
  • Harlow
  • Chelmsford
  • Braintree
  • Maldon
  • Southend on Sea
  • Thurrock
  • Dartford
  • Gravesham
  • Sevenoaks
  • Medway
  • Ashford
  • Maidstone
  • Tonbridge and Malling
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • Swale
  • Hastings and Rother
  • Milton Keynes
  • Watford
  • Broxbourne
  • Hertsmere
  • Three Rivers

Do you have any questions on Tier 4 restrictions or the new coronavirus strain? Email [email protected] and your questions will be answered by our experts.