What are the Three-Tier Restrictions in England?

Two men in face masks working out in the park during a coronavirus lockdown by Kate Trifo

What are the Three Tier Restrictions in England?

The United Kingdom has split upon its response to COVID-19.

The new three-tier system of restrictions to control the COVID-19 pandemic has begun in England.

Every area of England now falls into three categories determined on the local rate of infection: medium, high and very high.

At the time of writing the majority of the country is on the lowest tier, ‘medium’ but this is predicted to change if households continue to mix.

The Liverpool region is the sole area on the toughest tier ‘very high’, where police have had to intervene to disperse large crowds in the city centre.

Possible regions to join this include Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Quite a few areas are moving into tier 2 or ‘high’ alert this weekend including: London, Essex, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash.

Key Differences between Tiers in Alert System


  • Follow the rule of six when meeting
  • Pubs and restaurants to shut at 10pm


  • No household mixing indoors
  • Rule of six applies outside
  • Pubs and restaurants to shut at 10pm

Very high:

  • No household mixing both indoors and outdoors (including hospitality venues or private gardens)
  • Rule of six applies in outdoor spaces
  • Pubs and bars not serving meals with drinks will be closed
  • Guidance against travelling into and out of the area Further measures can be imposed locally.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, they have announced an extension and part-lockdown of the half-term holidays for schools, starting from Friday the 16th of October until Monday 2nd November when the closure will be reviewed. This includes restrictions on the hospitality business as it will be limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks from Friday. Other rules include no indoor sport where mixing of households could occur, close contact services such as hairdressers to close, and no events involving more than 15 people. However gyms and places of worship remain open with face coverings mandatory.


In Wales, Ministers are planning a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown which will consist of a short period closing of pubs and restaurants. The circuit breaker would also be two or three weeks where strict regulation would be imposed to try to stop the upwards trajectory of COVID-19 cases. Health Minister Vaughan Gething said on Wednesday 13th that a decision would be made in the next few days. This would also coincide with half-term, alike Ireland, as it means no interfering with education. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with circuit breakers as people have suggested we need to learn to live with the virus as short term fixes are unsustainable. Perhaps solely doing activities in a COVID-safe way limits the impact of social and economic problems in the long run. Also, from 6pm on Friday the 16th of October people from parts of the UK which have high rates of COVID-19 will be prevented from travelling to Wales.


In Scotland, there are higher levels of COVID infections than the other areas in the UK, resulting in 3.4 million people in central Scotland being subjected to stricter regulation until the 25th of October. Areas including Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, Forth Valley have stricter rules such as being solely takeaway for all hospitality premises and cafes closing at 6 pm. People have also been encouraged to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary, and not to leave their local area. Outside of the areas mentioned above, pubs and restaurants are only open until 6pm although they are allowed to serve alcohol outdoors until 10pm. Face coverings are still mandatory in any indoor communal settings.

Zoe Brightmore
About the author

Zoe Brightmore

Zoe is a volunteer of PPE4People. A recent BSc neuroscience graduate with experience in scientific writing and two new kittens.