What do Tier 3 restrictions mean for Christmas? How the rules will affect your festive plans

The North East will remain under Tier 3 restrictions over Christmas the Government has confirmed – this is how the rules will affect your festive plans.

The Government has confirmed today (Thursday, December 17) that Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland, County Durham, North Tyneside and Gateshead will remain in Tier 3.

The announcement comes as latest figures show South Tyneside has seen a drop in the number of confirmed Covid cases.

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In the seven days up to December 12 the Covid case rate was 316.6 per 100,000 people which is down from 415.3 per 100,000 people for the seven days prior.

How tier 3 restrictions will affect Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching the news will come as a blow for many businesses and residents in the region but the Government has promised a relaxation of the rules to allow people to spend time with loved ones.

But even then rules remain in place on who you can meet and when.

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Here’s everything you need to know.

Will I be able to spend Christmas Day with my family and friends?

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Yes, families and friends will be able to meet up indoors on Christmas Day but there is a limit on how many households will be able to mix.

The Government has said that up to three households will be able to mix indoors if they form a Christmas bubble.

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Each household is only allowed to be in one Christmas bubble and should limit social contact wherever possible.

Can I also see friends and family on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day?

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Yes, loved ones will also be able to see each other between December 23 and 27 indoors but they must remain in the same Christmas bubble.

What is the Government advice for celebrating Christmas safely?

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Speaking during a Downing Street briefing this week Mr Johnson said: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, and I’m afraid this year I do mean little.”

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Government guidance asks people to think carefully about whether they need to see elderly friends or family, or people who are “clinically extremely vulnerable”.

What should people do if they are travelling to see loved ones for Christmas?

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Those planning to meet on Christmas Day have been told they should self-isolate as much as possible from Friday December 18 onwards, to reduce the chance of passing on the virus.

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Can I meet my friends?

Under normal tier three rules, you can see other friends and family in some outdoor public places, in a group of up to six.

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However the most recent guidance for those meeting other households Christmas includes limited social contact as much as possible ahead of the festive meet-up.

What about Santa’s grottos?

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The government has said that Santa’s grottos are able to open in all tiers but only if they are located in venues otherwise permitted to open.

Venues should put in place appropriate covid-secure measures, including social distancing.

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What are the rules on travelling between tiers?

Under tier three restrictions people should avoid travelling outside your area and reduce the number of journeys you make wherever possible.

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However this is relaxed slightly for the Christmas period between 23 and 27 December, though the government has said people should ‘consider carefully’ the risks of travelling to see your Christmas bubble.

Those living in tier 3 in England should avoid travelling to lower prevalence areas where possible.

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What do the medical experts say?

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the guidance for Christmas meet-ups was now “keep it small, keep it short, keep it local”.

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The number of days spent in a bubble should be kept to a minimum and precautions taken around social distancing, hand washing and ventilation of rooms.

Which public places are allowed to stay open under Tier 3?

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Non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, and the wider leisure sector are open in Tier 3, and will be open up until Christmas so people can still shop or get their hair cut before the festive season.

Public places are also open for collective worship and small weddings.

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How long will the tier system last?

MPs voted to allow the tier system to remain in place until at least January 27.

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The Government has said previously said it would review the Tier system every two weeks, however there are now reports that the next review will be made in the New Year.

What are the Tier 3 rules?

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Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will have to stay closed except those operating a takeaway or click and collect service.

People must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with or in a support bubble with - this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues.

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People must not socialise in a group of more than six in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches.

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must stay closed.

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There will be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances.

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