What are the 'Tier 4' restrictions and will Harrogate be hit with tougher New Year Covid regulations?
Harrogate and North Yorkshire look set to be swept up with the rest of the country amid suggestions the Government could create a 'Tier 4' blanket across the whole of England.
Despite Harrogate's Covid rate remaining well below the national average, there are fears that a nation-wide spike and the added pressures on NHS services will force Prime Minister Boris Johnson into either announcing a full lockdown, or sweeping the 'Tier 4' restrictions across every region of the nation.
On Monday, Government Minister Michael Gove refused to rule out the prospect of placing the entire country under 'Tier 4' restrictions as he warned there were 'difficult months ahead'.
Britain recorded a further 41,385 cases of Covid on Monday and 357 more deaths, with the Department of Health stating the infection toll is up 24% on last Monday (December 21).
Harrogate is currently under 'Tier 2' restrictions, but with the next review scheduled for Wednesday, December 30, it is expected that the region will be hit with much tougher regulations.
The district currently has a Covid case rate of 94 per 100,000, with 230 deaths recorded to December 11 and 4,127 cases recorded to December 24. There were 151 cases reported in the week from December 14 to December 20.
Comparing our figures with the national average of 238 per 100,000 gives an idea on where we stand. London currently has a case rate of 752 per 100,000, Dover is at 730 per 100,000 and Southend-on-Sea at a staggering 1,036 per 100,000.
If Harrogate is placed in 'Tier 4' then the restrictions are almost identical to those of the second national lockdown experienced in November.
In general, you must not meet socially or carry out any activities with another person, although there are some exemptions, particularly if you are outside.
Non-essential businesses will once again be forced to close, while hospitality venues will be limited to offering take-away services only.
The Government website states: "If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules below. This means that you cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless you have a reasonable excuse.
"You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas and New Year period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble.
"Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas for Tier 4 – you cannot form a Christmas bubble in Tier 4."
Here is a general outline of the 'Tier 4' regulations:
Harrogate Hospital teams aiming to ease the festive pain for patients this ChristmasBusinesses required to close include:
* Non-essential retail - although venues can still operate a click-and-collect service, drive-through or delivery;
* Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm);
* Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites;
* Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts;
* Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres;
* Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s home;
* Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services.
Businesses which can remain open:
* Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences;
* Petrol stations and taxi and vehicle hire businesses;
* Funeral directors;
* Laundrettes and dry cleaners;
* Medical and dental services;
* Vets and pet shops;
* Mobility and disability support shops;
* Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas;
* Outdoor playgrounds;
* Outdoor gym, pools, sports courts and facilities;
* Golf courses;
* Outdoor riding centres;
* Places of worship;
* Crematoriums and burial grounds.
If you live in a 'Tier 4' zone then you must not leave your home or be outside of your garden unless you have a 'reasonable excuse'. Such excuses would include:
* Work and volunteering - Where it is not possible to work from home;
* Essential activities - Such as going to the shops or buying medicine or collecting take-aways, but you are urged to stay local.
* Legal obligations - Such as buying, letting or renting a residential property;
* Education and childcare - Schools would remain open (although this may change) and under-18 sport and physical activity is allowed;
* Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your Support Bubble, or to provide childcare for children aged 13 and under. You can also provide care for vulnerable people, provide emergency assistance, attend a support group, or travel for respite care;
* Exercise - People can exercise outdoors or visit some public outdoor places - such as parks, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities. You can continue with unlimited exercise alone or in an outdoor place with your household, support bubble, or one other socially distant person;
* Medical reasons - These include: To get a Covid-19 test; for medical appointments and emergencies; to be with someone giving birth; to escape harm or injury; for animal welfare reasons; to visit someone who is dying or in a care home (depending on visitor regulations);
* Communal worship - Visits to the following are permitted with restrictions on numbers in place: Place of worship for communal worship; a funeral or death; a burial ground or remembrance garden; a wedding;