After the national lockdown ended on 2nd December, the government introduced England’s three-tier system for reopening. The tiers are more strict with various implications on businesses, especially those in higher alert areas. The alert levels are divided into three; medium-tier one, high-tier two, and very high-tier three. These alert levels will determine which businesses are permitted to stay open and the kind of financial support available to cushion businesses. For instance, restaurants, pubs, and bars in tier three areas can only operate as takeaway or delivery services. In tier two, they are allowed to operate only if they serve a ‘substantial meal.’

According to Chris Norminton, the fact that most businesses in England are in tier two or three means that business owners have their worst fears confirmed. For instance, it may be disheartening for eatery owners in tier three areas as they won’t be allowed to host customers during this Christmas season.  The consumers are also affected. For instance, those in tier two regions will not be able to visit or socialize freely with those outside of their households, increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness in a year that has been challenging for many people.

The government says that the regionally differentiated covid19 prevention approach directs the most stringent measures on areas where infection rates are high. So, it will review the measures depending on the rate of infection in a particular area. The medium levels have national baseline restrictions, while the high and very high levels have stricter measures.

Tier 3 (Very high covid alert level)

Here are the tier three business rules.

  • Hospitality businesses such as restaurants, pubs, and clubs are not allowed to open but can drive sales through delivery, takeaway, click and collect or drive-through services.
  • Accommodation facilities such as hotels and campsites must close unless they are your main residence.
  • Tourist venues such as bingo halls, cinemas, play centers, and indoor entertainment areas must close.
  • Sports and leisure businesses can operate but with the exemption of group exercise classes such as fitness and dance groups. Steam rooms and saunas should not operate.
  • Large business events and outdoor events should not occur—no public attendance for indoor performances or sports events.
  • Organized outdoor sport to take place but with minimal risk contact activities.
  • Avoid traveling to other parts of the UK unless necessary, e.g., education, work, or providing care.

Businesses allowed to open regardless of tier:

  • Leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, outdoor playgrounds, golf courses, etc. but with social contact rules depending on the tier.
  • Personal care businesses such as hairdressers, barbers, and massage parlors.
  • Community centers such as libraries and public halls but should not hold events.
  • Allotment, waste management facilities and recycling centers, car parks, and public toilets.
  • Essential public services, such as medical facilities and courts.
  • Places of worship nut with rules in each tier.

Financial aid for closed businesses

The government has increased the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the end of March 2021. There is also the Local Restrictions Support Grant to aid closed businesses or those facing limited demand because of the covid restriction rules.

The takeaway

The three-tier approach is set to affect businesses differently depending on which tier your area belongs to. However, you should keep an eye on which alert level applies to your area as the situation is subject to change.