Birmingham to be placed in Tier 3 lockdown from December
The government has announced plans to place Birmingham in Tier 3 lockdown next Wednesday (2 December) when the current nationwide lockdown comes to a close.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has cited the high number of COVID-19 cases as one of the reasons for the extreme lockdown measure in the city, as part of the government’s “winter plan”.
According to government data, COVID-19 rates are improving (down 8.3%) but they remain very high (390/100,000). This rising trend is reflected in the number of people testing positive for the virus, according to Mr Hancock.
The Health Secretary also added that “pressure on the NHS remains high” as he outlined the plans for the Tier 3 lockdown, which will affect Birmingham alongside Greater Manchester, Hull, Newcastle, Leeds, Wolverhampton, Bristol, Derby and Sheffield.
The government ruling for Tier 3 will affect the region’s businesses, including the hospitality sector.
Restaurants, cafes and bars will close except for delivery, drive-through and takeaway services, while hotels and other accommodation providers will be ordered to shut down.
The only exemptions allowed for opening will be for clients who stay over for work related purposes, or where people are attending a funeral, or where they cannot return home.
Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling will also face closure during Tier 3 lockdown.
While the latest restrictions will also affect elite sporting events which can only be played without spectators, physical and mental health and wellbeing is prioritised as gyms are allowed to reopen but not saunas and spas.
The new Tier 3 restrictions, which come into effect next week, will cause further uncertainty during what would have been a busy and productive festive season for trade.
Birmingham City Council officials have suggested many Birmingham businesses will continue to be hit hard, following previous calls for the government to protect local traders during the lockdown. However, non-essential retailers have some respite as they will be allowed to operate under strict guidelines.
Once the current national lockdown is over, all shops in Birmingham have been given the green light to be open, providing all shoppers wear a mask indoors (unless exempt) and under the condition that shoppers are banned from mixing with anyone apart from households or bubbles in both indoor and outdoor retail spaces.
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, responded to the government restrictions:
“As has been the case throughout this devastating pandemic, our key focus has to be protecting the people and communities of Birmingham from the risks posed by COVID-19.
“Birmingham and the West Midlands will only get out of these tough measures if we all continue to follow the rules and we must all continue to play our part to keep our families, friends and neighbours safe.
“But as many council leaders, MPs, business leaders and others have been saying for a long time, we need a clear roadmap out of these restrictions and a meaningful package of support for jobs and businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, so we can focus on what needs to be done to keep people safe – and ensure our economy continues to function in an effective way.”
Mr Ward added he was concerned about the negative impact of the Tier 3 impact on Birmingham businesses.
“The crisis faced by hospitality businesses across Birmingham is of particular concern from an economic perspective – a crisis that would have been exacerbated whether our city was placed in Tier 2 or 3.
“Many businesses in this previously thriving sector are warning they may not survive the coming months if they are dealt the double blow of more restrictions and inadequate financial support.”
Commenting on the new system of selective national restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the allocation of tiers “will be reviewed every 14 days”, starting on the 16th December, adding “Your tier is not your destiny – every area has the means of escape”.
What are Tier 3 restrictions?
The government has announced details of the new three-tier system that will come into effect in when the four-week national lockdown across England ends on 2 December. Here are the rules for the “Very High alert” Tier 3, which will apply across Birmingham:
- Hospitality venues such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to close, except for delivery, drive-thru, click-and-collect and takeaway service.
- Hotels and other accommodation providers – such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses – must also close, except for specific work purposes where people cannot return home.
- Gyms can reopen, along with other sports facilities but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close.
- Outdoor sports, including golf and tennis, will be allowed to continue in all tiers, as will amateur team sports such as football. Unlike the first two tiers, spectators will not be allowed to watch sport in tier 3.
- Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place.
- You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues.
- Even at other outdoor spaces such as parks or beaches you must not socialise in groups of more than six – this is called the ‘rule of 6’.
- Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies.
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events.
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close, including indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, amusement arcades and adult gaming centres, laser quests and escape rooms, cinemas, theatres and concert halls and snooker halls.
- Attractions such as theme parks, zoos and wildlife reserves must close.
- Hairdressers, along with other beauty businesses, will be allowed to reopen.