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This article was originally published 13 October 2020. It was last updated 22 October. 

As we previously reported, a new three-level system of COVID restrictions now applies in England.

The three options are medium, high and very high with more details now available of which parts of the country will fall into the three categories. As the Prime Minister said in his statement, most of the country will be classified as medium - Tier 1.

An outline of areas currently in Tiers 2 and 3 can be seen below.  

Tier 3

'Areas within the very high alert category will,' Mr Johnson said, 'be reviewed every four weeks and nowhere will be shut down indefinitely. And the exact restrictions at this level, very high, will be worked out with local leaders, along with tailored packages of support.'


Liverpool City Region was the first area to be placed in the very high category. As well as Liverpool itself, the region includes Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens and Halton.

Here, pubs and bars are now required to be closed (except where serving “substantial” meals), as will leisure centres, betting shops and casinos while households must not mix either indoors or outdoors. That leaves those classified as high level where, as well as applying the rule of six, pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 22:00 and there must be no mixing between different households indoors. 

Initially, gyms were also required to shut. However, they can reopen from 00:01 on Friday 23 October. 


On 16 October 2020, it was announced that Lancashire will also move to Tier 3 restrictions from midnight on Saturday 17 October. As with Liverpool, pubs and bars are now closed except when serving 'substantial meals'. The adult gaming industry, casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops and soft play areas must also close. Unlike Liverpool, gyms can remain open. 

Greater Manchester

On 20 October 2020, it was confirmed that Greater Manchester (which includes Bolton, Wigan and Oldham) is to be placed into Tier 3 from 00:01 on Friday 23 October. As with other Tier 3 areas, pubs and bars will close except when serving substantial meals. Casinos, betting shops, adult gaming centres, bingo halls and soft play centres must also close, but gyms can remain open. 

South Yorkshire

On 21 October 2020, it was confirmed that South Yorkshire (which includes Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield) is to go into Tier 3 from 00:01 on Saturday 24 October. As with other Tier 3 areas, pubs and bars will close except when serving substantial meals. Betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres must close. Gyms can remain open but gym classes will not be allowed. Notably, bingo halls have not been included in restrictions for this area. 

Tier 2

The areas falling into Tier 2 category are:

  • North East: Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland
  • Tees Valley: Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Hartlepool
  • North West: Cheshire, Warrington, and, with effect from 17 October, Barrow-in-Furness
  • Derbyshire: High Peak and, with effect from 17 October, Erewash, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire
  • West Yorkshire: Leeds. Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield
  • North Yorkshire: York (with effect from 17 October)
  • Midlands: Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester and Oadby and Wigston and (with effect from 24 October) Stoke and Coventry.  
  • South East: (with effect from 17 October) London, Essex and Elmbridge and (with effect from 24 October) Slough.  

A postcode checker available at shows which alert level applies in each area and the NHS COVID-19 app will also direct people to this information.


The government has also confirmed that shielding is not to be re-instated in ‘very high areas’. Current guidance is that those who were previously told to shield should ‘go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible’. They are also not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they stay at home but are unable to work from there.

Employers are therefore being advised to consider temporarily changing the employee’s role to allow them to work from home. If this is not possible, they could consider letting them work within an alternative role, or changing their working patterns, to reduce contact with others.

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