23 December and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has announced that Oxfordshire will enter into the new Tier 4 level of restrictions – which includes a “stay at home” order – from Boxing Day. Oxfordshire will be joining many neighbouring areas in the south-east of England (including London) already in Tier 4.
Tier 4 is the highest alert level in the national four-tier system, and it means that residents must stay at home, except for a limited number of purposes.
Other areas moving to tier four from boxing day are Sussex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest, and the parts of Essex and Surrey not already in Tier 4.
The government decides which tier applies in each area based on a range of indicators, which are available to view on the COVID-19 dashboard, and include:
- analysis of cases across all age groups
- analysis of cases in the over 60s
- the rate by which cases are rising or falling
- the percentage of those tested in local populations with COVID
- pressures on the NHS
The next formal review of tiering decisions will take place by 30 December.
What are the new tier four restrictions in Oxfordshire?
- You must not leave their home or garden unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ including for work, education, exercise and essential activities such as medical appointments and to buy food. Everyone who can work from home should do so.
- You must not meet socially with anybody you do not live with, or have in your support bubble. This applies indoors, in a private garden, or some outdoor public venues.
You can see only one other person you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places – such as parks or public gardens.
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead, with restrictions on the number of attendees. Six people can attend wedding ceremonies. Wedding receptions are not allowed. Up to 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and six people can attend linked commemorative events like wakes.
- Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses must close, other than where very limited exceptions apply.
Hospitality venues, such as bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs, must close except for takeaway, delivery, drive-through and click and collect services.
- Takeaway must cease between 11.00pm and 5.00am, but delivery, drive-through and click-and-collect may continue during this period. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or members’ clubs.
- Indoor entertainment venues, such as casinos, bowling alleys, and bingo halls, must close. Cinemas, theatres, and concert venues must close; except for drive-in events.
- Outdoor entertainment venues, such as botanical gardens and heritage sites, may stay open, although indoor elements at these attractions must also close.
- All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts, and dance studios, must close. All non-essential shops as well as personal care such as hairdressers and nail salons must close.
- Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, riding centres and playgrounds can remain open for individual exercise, and for people to use with others within your household, support bubble, or with one person from another household
- Places of worship will be open for private prayer and communal worship, so you can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.
- You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents, and removals firms, can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.
- You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This also include staying in a second home or caravan.
- Residents in Tiers 1 to 3 are advised not to travel into a Tier 4 area from another part of the UK, except in exceptional circumstances.
- People in Tier 4 who are clinically vulnerable are advised to stay at home as much as possible, and can leave the house to exercise or attend health appointments.
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This is a rolling story and it will be updated with any significant developments.