Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced much of England, including London, would move to a new Tier 4 of Covid-19 restrictions. Those in Tier 4 are unable to form a Christmas bubble, and you can now only meet one person outside in a public place.
I know this was a devastating announcement for many. Like many families, we have spent the time following the announcement trying to work out what this means for our Christmas plans to see our elderly parents.
I am as frustrated that this announcement was made so late in the day. I was urging the Government to close schools on 11 December leaving a two week run into Christmas but this did not happen. To effectively cancel Christmas for many millions of people, having promised five days when people could see each other, is very difficult to take, and I am worried about some people’s mental health.
This is also devastating for many local businesses at their busiest time of year. Over the last nine months I have been helping hundreds of local businesses with queries, getting grants, and speaking to banks on their behalf. Since March, I have also been raising concerns about those who have not been able to access Government support, in particular some self-employed people, the events and arts sectors, and the hospitality industry and supply chain. Businesses affected by Tier 4 measures will need even further support from the Government, and I will be pressing the Treasury to provide this as soon as possible.
You can read the Tier-4 specific rules here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home
The most important thing to note is that support bubbles and childcare bubbles can continue. These are distinct from the now prohibited Christmas bubbles.
You can form a support bubble with another household of any size if:
- you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
- you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
- your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- you are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults
- you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020
The full rules relating to support bubbles can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-household
A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to anyone under 14. All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement. ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered. You can find the full rules on this here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-childcare-bubble-with-another-household#what-a-childcare-bubble-is
There have also been questions about international travel to or from a tier 4 area. Below is the Government guidance.
"If you are in Tier 4, you should not be travelling abroad unless it is permitted. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
If you live outside a tier 4 area you may still transit into or through a tier 4 area to travel abroad if you need to, but you should carefully consider whether you need to do so. In addition, you should follow the public health advice in the country you’re visiting.
If you do need to travel overseas from a tier 4 area (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you've visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning."
Finally, as ever, if you are in need of assistance or advice, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org