People wearing face masks walk through Oxford Circus in London, England on October 16, 2020.
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LONDON — The UK’s capital is set to move to the country’s highest level of coronavirus restrictions as cases continue to rise ahead of the holiday season.
On Monday, the government announced that London, a city of around 9 million people, and its surrounding areas would move to the “very high” alert level of Level 3.
Announcing the move in parliament, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a new variant of the virus had been identified which “may be associated” with the infection spreading faster in south-east England.
From Wednesday, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close unless they offer a take-out or delivery service, and entertainment venues and indoor entertainment venues, including theaters and cinemas , must close.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Tier 3 restrictions for London:
When will London move to Tier 3?
Tier 3 restrictions will apply in London, Essex and parts of Hertfordshire from the start of Wednesday, December 16 – from 12:01 a.m. local time, to be precise.
Which domains exactly go to level 3?
- All 32 London boroughs and the City of London (a central financial district which is governed differently).
- In Essex: Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree, Chelmsford — and the two unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.
- In Hertfordshire: Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and Three Rivers.
Why is London moving to Tier 3?
London is moving to Tier 3 due to an increase in cases in and around the capital. Some boroughs in the capital saw the number of cases increase by more than 40% in the week to December 9, and parts of neighboring Essex saw the number of infections increase by up to 78%.
“London’s weekly case rate at 225 per 100,000 population is already the highest regional rate in the country,” the government said in a statement on Monday.
Nationally, the UK is still in the throes of a second wave of infections and varying degrees of restrictions are in place across the country. A further 20,263 cases were reported in the UK on Monday and 232 more deaths from the virus, according to government data.
In the past seven days, 131,708 additional cases have been reported, an increase of about 22% from the previous seven-day period, showing that the infection rate is still high and has been increasing. The UK has, however, started rolling out a coronavirus vaccine, which is expected to curb transmission of the virus, as well as infection.
How long will London stay in Tier 3?
It is unknown how long the city will stay at level 3; much will depend on the rate of infection over the next few weeks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said the tier system would be reviewed and revised every 14 days, meaning December 30 would be the time for the next review.
A five-day easing of restrictions is still scheduled for the Christmas period, December 23-27, which allows families to mix on a limited basis (i.e. three households are allowed to form a “bubble “during these five days). Scientists and two leading medical journals warned on Tuesday that the relaxation period should be scrapped given the infection rate, but no official decision has yet been made on that.
Commuters walk along the Thames Path with a view of Tower Bridge in London, UK, Monday, December 14, 2020.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Can I travel internationally in Tier 3?
Government advice says that if you live in a Tier 3 area you should avoid traveling outside of your area. This applies to international and domestic travel, but it is not a legal restriction.
Can I play golf at level 3?
Golf courses are allowed to stay open in Tier 3 areas, and other outdoor sports like tennis are also still allowed. But there are limits to social gatherings at sports venues.
Golf course hospitality establishments are closed in Tier 3 areas, for example, although they are allowed to continue take-out services.
You can participate in organized sports and outdoor physical activities with any number of people, “however, you should avoid contact during training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities” , the government said. Gyms and sports facilities will remain open for individual exercise, but indoor group activities and exercise classes are not expected to take place, the government notes.
Can I stay in a level 3 hotel?
Can I move to level 3?
The housing market in England will remain open at all three levels, according to the government. “This means that people looking to move will be able to both continue with planned moves and see new properties to move into in the future. Real estate and rental agents, movers, appraisers and people in sale and rental and the show houses will be able to continue to work,” he added.