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Four-tier coronavirus alert levels: Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 rules explained

Find the latest guidance

The tier system is no longer operating in England. As a result, we're no longer updating this page but for the latest coronavirus information and to find out how it affects you, visit our specific coronavirus pages.

What's the alert level in your area?

If you don't know the alert level in your area there's a full list on the Government website.


Tier 1 - Medium Alert: what it means for you

Meeting with others

You can see people from different households both indoors and outdoors, but only in groups of up to 6 people. 

You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

Travel and transport

There are no restrictions on travel or use of transport but you should still wear a face covering.

Avoid travelling to tier three areas unless where necessary for example for work, medical reasons, caring or education.  

If you do travel to a tier 2 or tier 3 area you will need to follow the rules of that area while you are there.

Staying overnight

There are no restrictions on staying overnight somewhere other than your house. But you can only go away with those outside your household or support bubble in a group of up to 6.

Going to work

You should work from home where possible. Where this isn't possible, workplaces should be coronavirus secure.

Shops

All shops can open.

Hospitality

Restaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues can be open. However, they must close by 11pm, with last orders at 10pm and provide table service. 

Personal care

Businesses such as hair, nail and beauty salons can open.  

Exercise and sporting activity

Gyms, pools, and leisure facilities can open. 

Organised sport and licensed physical activity are allowed in indoor and outdoor settings but may be subject to certain rules, including the rule of six for indoor activities.

Sporting events are open to the public but with limited capacity or a maximum of 4000 people outdoors and 1000 indoors where social distancing is possible.  

Places of worship

They can open subject to the rule of six, but it's best to check with your place of worship. There are exceptions for weddings and funerals.

Weddings and civil partnerships

Up to 15 people can attend a wedding ceremony and a coronavirus secure sit-down reception.

Funerals

Up to 30 people can attend someone's funeral and up to 15 people can attend someone's wake, ash spreading or other linked events. But this can’t be held in someone's home.

Care home visits

You can visit someone in a care home.

  • Indoor visits are allowed if the visitor has had a negative coronavirus test or if you haven't been tested and are also from a Tier 1 area you can visit in a designated and well-ventilated room.
  • Outdoors visits and visits that involve a screen are allowed.
  • Visits in exceptional circumstances are allowed, including when someone is at the end of their life.

All close contact visits are dependent on visitor testing. Care homes are expected to receive these tests by 18 December. 

Each resident is limited to two constant visitors and when visiting you should expect to take a coronavirus test, keep your distance, and wear PPE. 

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home visiting should stop immediately, apart from in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. 

Each care home is responsible for its own visiting policy. However, you can read more about the guidance here

Public services and buildings

These can open.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable or were previously advised to shield

 

You may want to limit the number of people you spend time with or choose to meet with those you don’t live with in outside spaces. Make sure you socially distance from people you don’t live with or who are outside of your support bubble.

It’s a good idea to limit your use of public transport and to visit places like shops and pharmacies at quieter times of the day. 

Any carers or visitors who support you with everyday needs should continue to come round.

For more information on these specific considerations, see our page on Shielding, social distancing and self-isolation.

Christmas

On 25 December each household can form a 'Christmas bubble' with up to two other households. The rules have been updated so households will only be allowed to socialise on Christmas day.

Our Coronavirus Christmas page explains the rules. 


Tier 2 - High Alert: what it means for you

Meeting with others

You can see people from different households outside in groups of up to 6 people but you can only meet inside with those in your household or support bubble.

You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

Travel and transport

Journeys should be limited where possible, but you can still travel and use transport to go to the shops, work and hospitality venues that are open. You should still wear a face covering.

Avoid travelling to tier 3 areas unless where necessary for example for work, medical reasons, caring or education. 

If you travel into a tier 3 area then you will need to follow the rules of tier 3. 

Staying overnight

You can only stay overnight somewhere if it's with those in your household or support bubble.

Going to work

You should work from home where possible. Where this isn't possible, workplaces should be coronavirus secure.

Shops

All shops can be open. 

Hospitality

Pubs and bars can open as long as they are able to serve a substantial meal, restaurants can open but should be table service only. Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal. 

Venues should close by 11pm and take last orders at 10pm. 

You can only go to these places with people from your household or support bubble unless you’re able to sit outside, which you may be able to do with a maximum group of 6 people.

Personal care

Businesses such as hair, nail and beauty salons can open.  

Exercise and sporting activity

Gyms, pools, and leisure facilities can open. 

Organised sport and licensed physical activity are allowed in outdoor settings but may be subject to certain rules. 

Any indoor physical activity can only take place where there’s no interaction between different households. 

Sporting events are allowed but with limited capacity or a maximum of 2000 people outdoors and 1000 indoors and where social distancing is possible.  

Places of worship

They can open as long as households don't mix indoors, but it's best to check with your place of worship. There are exceptions for weddings and funerals.

Weddings and cvil partnerships

Up to 15 people can attend a ceremony and a coronavirus secure sit-down reception.

Funerals

Up to 30 people can attend someone's funeral and up to 15 people can attend someone's wake, ash spreading or other linked events. This can’t be held in someone's home.

Care home visits

You can visit someone in a care home.

  • Indoor visits are allowed if the visitor has had a negative coronavirus test.
  • Outdoors visits and visits that involve a screen are allowed if someone hasn't been tested. This can continue until a test is available.
  • Visits in exceptional circumstances are allowed, including when someone is at the end of their life.

All close contact visits are dependent on visitor testing. Care homes are expected to receive these tests by 18 December.

Each resident is limited to two constant visitors and when visiting you should expect to take a coronavirus test, keep your distance, and wear PPE. 

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home visiting should stop immediately, apart from in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. 

Each care home is responsible for its own visiting policy. However, you can read more about the guidance here.

Public services and buildings

These can open. 

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable or were previously advised to shield

 

Although you can meet in groups of up to 6 outside, it’s a good idea to limit the number of different people you socialise with. Make sure you socially distance from people outside of your household or support bubble.

Try to avoid travel where possible, unless for education, work, or essential shopping. 

You can go to shops or pharmacies, but you should do so at times where it will be less busy. If you can it’s better to have online deliveries for food and prescriptions or to ask friends or family to pick things up for you. 

Any carers or visitors who support you with everyday needs should continue to come round.

For more information on these specific considerations, see our page on Shielding, social distancing and self-isolation.

Christmas

On 25 December each household can form a 'Christmas bubble' with up to two other households. The rules have been updated so households will only be allowed to socialise on Christmas day.

Our Coronavirus Christmas page explains the rules. 


Tier 3 - Very High Alert: what it means for you

Meeting with others

 

You should only spend time in your house or garden with the people you live with. This means you cannot invite people you dont live with over to your house or in your garden unless they are are in your support bubble.
 

You can meet with others in public outdoor places, such as beaches or parks, but only in groups of up to 6 people. 

You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

Travel and transport

Journeys should be minimised, but you can still travel to go to the shops, works and hospitality venues that are open. You should still wear a face covering.

You're advised against travelling out of your area (although exceptions apply, for example for work, education or caring responsibilities). 

Staying overnight

You can't stay overnight somewhere outside of local area unless needed for work, education or similar. This should only be with those in your household or support bubble.  

Accommodation will be closed in these areas except for specific reasons.  

Going to work

You should work from home where possible. Where this isn't possible, workplaces should be coronavirus secure.

Shops

All shops can be open. 

Hospitality

Hospitality venues are closed, but can remain open for takeaway, drive through and delivery services.  

Personal care

Businesses such as hair, beauty and nail salons can be open.  

Exercise and sporting activity

Gyms, pools, and leisure facilities can open.  

Organised sport and licensed physical activity are allowed outdoor settings, but higher risk contact activity should be avoided. 

Indoor exercise and sports should not take place unless it is with your household or support bubble. 

You can't attend sporting events such as football matches, only drive in events will be permitted. 

Places of worship

They can open as long as households don't mix indoors or outdoors, but it's best to check with your place of worship. There are exceptions for weddings and funerals.

Weddings and civil partnerships

Up to 15 people can attend a ceremony, but wedding receptions aren't allowed.

Funerals

Up to 30 people can attend someone's funeral and up to 15 people can attend someone's wake, ash spreading or other linked events. This can’t be held in someone's home.

Care home visits

You can visit someone in a care home.

  • Indoor visits are allowed if the visitor has had a negative coronavirus test.
  • Outdoors visits and visits that involve a screen are allowed if someone hasn't been tested. This can continue until a test is available.
  • Visits in exceptional circumstances are allowed, including when someone is at the end of their life.

All close contact visits are dependent on visitor testing. Care homes are expected to receive these tests by 18 December.

Each resident is limited to two constant visitors and when visiting you should expect to take a coronavirus test, keep your distance, and wear PPE. 

If there's an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home visiting should stop immediately, apart from in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. 

Each care home is responsible for its own visiting policy. However, you can read more about the guidance here.

Public services and buildings

These can open.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable or were previously advised to shield

 

It’s still important to go outside for exercise but when you do try to avoid places which are likely to have lots of people. Other than for exercise, try to stay at home as much as possible.

If you can, avoid going to shops and pharmacies. Instead use online shops or ask people in your household or support bubble to pick things up for you. If you’re struggling to get the things you need NHS volunteers can help. You can also register for priority online delivery slots here. 

You may want to socially distance from the people you live with, although we know this may not be practical.

Any carers or visitors who support you with everyday needs should continue to come round.

For more information on these specific considerations, see our page on Shielding, social distancing and self-isolation.

Christmas

On 25 December each household can form a 'Christmas bubble' with up to two other households. The rules have been updated so households will only be allowed to socialise on Christmas day.

Our Coronavirus Christmas page explains the rules. 


Tier 4 – Stay at home: what it means for you

Stay at home

You should stay at home as much as possible. You should only leave your house for specific purposes, including:

  • essential activities such as shopping for food, drink or other items such as medicine (this includes picking up 'click and collect orders) or accessing public services or basic amenities.
  • work, if you can't work from home, and volunteering
  • education and childcare
  • providing care to a vulnerable person
  • meeting up with others in your support bubble
  • exercising
  • for medical care or to avoid harm.

 

Meeting with others

You should only spend time in your house or garden with the people you live with. This means you can’t invite people you don’t live with over to your house or in your garden unless they’re in your support bubble.

You can only meet up with one other person in public outdoor places, such as beaches or parks. Up to two carers for someone with a disability or any child under the age of five don't count towards this limit. 

You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

Travel and transport

You should only travel if it's essential. You should still wear a face covering.

You may not travel out of your area or overseas (although exceptions apply, for example for work, education or caring responsibilities). 

Staying overnight

You can't stay overnight somewhere outside your local area unless essential for work, education or similar. This should only be with those in your household or support bubble. You may not stay in a second home or caravan.

Accommodation will be closed in these areas except for specific reasons.  

Going to work

You should work from home where possible. Where this isn't possible, workplaces should be coronavirus secure.

You can continue to provide services in people's home, such as cleaners, tradespeople or carers.

Shops

Non-essential shops will be closed. Essential shops such as supermarkets will remain open. 

Hospitality

Hospitality venues are closed, but can remain open for takeaway, drive-through and delivery services.  

Personal care

Businesses such as hair, nail and beauty salons will be closed. These services can't be provided in private homes.

Exercise and sporting activity

Indoor gyms, pools, and leisure facilities will be closed. 

Outdoors gyms, pools, sports courts and golf coursers can remain open.

Playgrounds, parks and public gardens can also remain open.

Places of worship

They can open for services. However, you can't mix indoors with people outside your household or support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnerships

Weddings and civil partnerships can only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, if one partner is seriously ill. These are limited to 6 people. 

Funerals

Funerals can take place with up to 30 people. Linked ceremonies or events can take place with up to 6 people (excluding anyone working at a venue).

If you're travelling from Tier 4 into a lower tier for a funeral, the ceremony must still comply with these rules.

Care home visits

You can still visit someone in a care home if that visit takes place outdoors, at a window or in a specially-designated secure visiting room or pod.

Indoors visits can't take place, even with a negative coronavirus test. 

Public services and buildings

Essential public services can remain open. These include job centres, courts, registry offices and waste/recycling centres.

Other public buildings, such as libraries, will close.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable or were previously advised to shield

 

It’s still important to go outside for exercise but when you do try to avoid places which are likely to have lots of people. Other than for exercise, try to stay at home as much as possible.

If you can, avoid going to shops and pharmacies. Instead, use online shops or ask people in your household or support bubble to pick things up for you. If you’re struggling to get the things you need NHS volunteers can help. You can also register for priority online delivery slots here

You shouldn't go to work, even if you are unable to work from home.

You may want to socially distance from the people you live with, although we know this may not be practical.

Any carers or visitors who support you with everyday needs should continue to come round.

For more information on these specific considerations, see our page on Shielding, social distancing and self-isolation

Christmas

Households in Tier 4 will not be able to form a Christmas bubble.


Do the restrictions affect everyone?

Every local area is at one of the four alert levels, so the new guidelines will affect most people. However, there are some exceptions. These are:

  • If you're meeting with people who are in your support or childcare bubbles
  • For work or volunteering.
  • To provide care or assistance to someone who is vulnerable
  • To fulfil a legal obligation
  • For outdoor exercise or outdoor dance classes
  • To visit someone who is dying
  • As a birth partner
  • For a funeral or wedding (there are restrictions on numbers)
  • To attend support groups
  • To protest.

If you were previously asked to shield, the Government has outlined some extra precautions you should take depending on the alert level in your area. You can read more about these on our Shielding, social distancing and self-isolation page


Can I travel to an area that's in a different tier to mine?

If you’re travelling to an area in a higher tier than where you live you should follow the guidance of that area. 

If you’re travelling to an area in a lower tier level you should continue to follow the guidance of the area where you live.  

Everyone is advised against travelling to or from an area in very high alert level (tier 3). People in tier 4 areas won’t be allowed to travel outside of their area or travel overseas. There are some exceptions though such as if it’s for work, education or caring responsibilities.

We have lots more coronavirus information. If you have any more questions about the current guidance or just want to know more then why not have a look at our coronavirus hub?

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Last updated: Jul 05 2021

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