As expected, England is to revert to the Tier system of restrictions once the second lockdown ends on December 2nd. However, the tiers will be strengthened in a bid to allow families to meet up at Christmas. This, despite SAGE and others warning not to relax rules too much over Christmas and risk a major spike in cases after the festive period.

Here is what you need to know about each tier and how it will or won’t affect UK fenestration.

The new tiers

This is a breakdown of all the main points of each tier as stated by Government from their own website:

All Tiers

Across all tiers, everyone:

  • must wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption
  • should follow the rules on meeting others safely
  • should attend school or college as normal, unless they are self-isolating. Schools, universities, colleges and early years settings remain open in all tiers
  • should walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling
  • must follow the gathering limits at their tier except for in specific settings and circumstances. These exemptions are detailed at the end of this guidance

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Regular testing will be offered to up to 2 family members or friends per resident by Christmas, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support indoor visits with physical contact. Detailed guidance will be published shortly.

All businesses and venues that are open are expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. In all tiers, the following businesses and venues can remain open:

  • essential and non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales
  • certain leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres, outdoor playgrounds – subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier. Indoor group activities and classes should not take place at tier 3
  • personal care and close contact services such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, massage parlours and tanning salons
  • public buildings, such as libraries, community centres and halls. They should not host events for private hire, such as birthday parties or most other social activities in tier 3
  • allotments, recycling and waste centres, public toilets, car parks
  • essential public services such as the NHS and medical services, courts, and jobcentre plus sites
  • places of worship – communal worship can now resume, subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier

Everyone who can work from home should do so. Where people cannot do so – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. Public-sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary

Tier 1: Medium Risk

In tier 1:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6 people, indoors or outdoors, other than where a legal exemption applies.  This is called the ‘rule of 6’
  • businesses and venues can remain open, in a COVID secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
  • hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:
    • provide table service only, for premises that serve alcohol
    • close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas are exempt)
    • stop taking orders after 10pm
  • hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm
  • public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • places of worship remain open, but you must not attend or socialise in groups of more than 6 people while there, unless a legal exemption applies
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
  • organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes can continue to take place, if the rule of 6 is followed. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes, and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
  • if you live in a tier 1 area and travel to an area in a higher tier you should follow the rules for that area while you are there. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey
  • for international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

How will it affect UK fenestration?

In short, it won’t. Even during lockdown our sector was able to function, other than showrooms being closed. The Government says the tier system has been strengthened, although to me there hasn’t been a huge change from the original system before lockdown was introduced.

At the time of writing, there has been very strong speculation that the entirety of England will be placed in either Tier 2 or 3. No areas are going to be placed into Tier 1, which is going to be a huge disappointment after the news that families would be able to see each other at Christmas. As I understand it, Tier 1 is going to be the goal for those in Tier 2, with many areas of England being placed into Tier 3.

It’s also worth considering what is going to happen after Christmas. The plans for families to meet over Christmas will last for five days from December 23rd to 27th. However, SAGE recommended to the Government last week that for every day of “freedom” over Christmas, five days of hard lockdown afterwards would be required to make up for the movement of people during the festive period. Up to now, there hasn’t been much from the Government about those particular details. I suspect they don’t want to dampen the mood any further before Christmas. But it does remain highly likely that there may well be a further lockdown to compensate for the Christmas activity.

For UK fenestration, the above rules won’t affect how we conduct business. We should all continue to practise the usual COVID-secure measures we are used to. Should there be another lockdown after Christmas I suspect it will be similar to what we’re going through right now.

Also at the time of writing I have learned about some new potential guidance about to be released by the Government with regards to door canvassing and leaflet dropping. As soon as more information becomes available I will publish it on DGB.

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