October 13, 2020

The Three Tiered System for Lockdown Explained

On October 12th, the Prime Minister announced significant changes to lockdown measures across England. This included introducing a three-tier system for regions across the UK.

There is now a three tier strategy for lockdown restrictions per region. Find out what rules apply to each tier, how these changes will impact upon your business and considerations you might need to make below.

What Restrictions Apply for the Medium Tier

The medium tier covers most of the country, including the south of England. Therefore, national measures are applied. This includes:

  • Up to six people are allowed to meet at one time (aside from exceptions such as education and going to work)
  • Venues are to close at 10pm
  • Table service must be in operation in hospitality venues alongside other guidance: read further advice for the hospitality sector here
  • Up to 15 guests at weddings and 30 at funerals

What Restrictions Apply to the High Tier

The high tier reflects the restrictions of many local lockdowns prior to this update, including Newcastle, Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Leeds. Due to rising infection rates, Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and some of High Peak will also move into this category.

On top of the guidelines for the medium tier, there are stricter rules applying to household mixing:

  • People cannot mix indoors with any other households or their support bubbles
  • The rule of six still applies outdoors, so mixing with up to five other people is allowed in public spaces and private gardens
  • Again, there are exceptions to this which include mixing with people at work, school or university
  • People are not to travel in or out of the restricted area

What Restrictions Apply to the Very High Tier

The very high tier has been introduced to limit the spread of the virus where transmission rates are of most concern. Liverpool is one of the cities that will be put in this tier from Wednesday 14th October.

  • Pubs and bars will have to close (unless they can operate solely as a restaurant)
  • Additional measures such as closing other venues may be enforced on a case-by-case basis after discussion with local leaders. For example in Liverpool casinos, betting shops, adult gaming centres, gyms and leisure centres will have to close
  • Retail, schools and universities will remain open
  • Social mixing between households is banned in private houses and gardens
  • Social mixing in groups of up to 6 in some outdoor, public spaces is permitted
  • People are not to travel in or out of the restricted area
  • Businesses that are required to close due to this can have two thirds of their employee’s wages covered by the new Job Support Scheme
  • These businesses can receive a cash grant of up to £3,000 a month
  • Additionally, the areas affected can request extra local law enforcement and support for local test and trace systems
  • The four week ‘sunset clause’ means regions in the very high tier will be under local lockdown for a minimum of four weeks, whereas other places not in the ‘very high’ category can change at a much shorter notice

How Your Business Adapt to These Changes

The tighter restrictions will put many businesses under renewed financial strain. As the Job Retention (furlough) Scheme comes to a close at the end of October, make sure you consider the Job Support Scheme, starting 1st November, to help reduce costs in your business.

If your business is in the ‘very high tier’ and has to close due to new restrictions, you could be eligible for two thirds of staff wages being covered. Although how to apply for this has not yet been announced, it is worth bearing in mind when making financial predictions this quarter.

Additional local enforcement may be in place to ensure the public follow the new guidelines, but can also serve as a reminder that businesses need to pay close attention to the rules as well. Making sure your workplaces are risk assessed is now a legal requirement. Learn more about how to be COVID-Secure in our recent webinar or this blog article on health and safety guidance.

With nearly half of the UK workforce now working from home, what seemed to be a temporary measure is now becoming a long-term arrangement. Maintaining productivity over a sustained period of time is something that managers may want to address. 13 million people in Britain will also be asking for permanent flexible working arrangements when lockdown is over. Learn how you can prepare for flexible working requests here.

With increasing social isolation that comes alongside this, now more than ever it’s important to monitor your employees wellbeing and support their mental health.

If these changes mean your company has to unfortunately consider making redundancies, make sure you manage the process fairly and avoid employment tribunals by reading our blog post on the redundancy process or sign up to our next webinar.

If you’d like support managing your business with these new measures and legislation in mind, Moorepay’s HR Consultancy Services and H&S Services can help.


Please note, this article and its guidance was correct at the time of posting. Please visit our Knowledge Centre for up-to-date advice.

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About the author

Karis Lambert

About the author

Karis Lambert

Karis Lambert is Moorepay's Digital Marketing Executive, having joined the team in 2020. Karis is CIM qualified, and keeps our customers up-to-date with Moorepay's market-leading knowledge and advice through our digital channels, including the website.

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