Tier 4 explained – what is closed, who you can meet, Christmas and where you can travel

Tier 4

Tier 4 comes into force across the South East, London and East of England tomorrow (December 20) at 00.01am.

The  rules are similar to the November lockdown and mean many businesses will have to close yet again and people are expected to stay at home once more.

The restrictions

Stay at home

Residents must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law such as travelling to work or education, for childcare purposes, and for exercise.

You can leave home to buy things at shops which are permitted to open in your area, but you should stay local. For instance you can leave home to buy food or medicine, or to collect any items – including food or drink – ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money (e.g. from a bank or post office), or to access critical public services.

You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.

What’s closed?

Non-essential retail, indoor leisure [such as swimming pools and gyms], indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] must all close.

These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services and hospitality venues can provide food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery

Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites must close, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes

Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities. Libraries can  remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

Can I work?

People must work from home if they can, but may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.


People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas, and tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home.

Those in tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as for work purposes.

Who can I meet?

Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space. Rules on support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain as currently.

Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit.

You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.

What if I am clinically vulnerable?

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, which includes people with certain types of cancer, people on immunosuppression therapy, and people with severe respiratory conditions, shouldn’t go to work and should limit time outside the home, and take exercise outside at less busy times.

Unlike the November national restrictions, communal worship can continue to take place in tier 4 areas.

Support and childcare bubbles

You can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:

  • you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living without any adults
  • you live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
  • you live with a child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
  • you live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability


The Christmas relaxation measures are reversed in Tier 4 and across England the relaxation is now only in place for Christmas Day.

It means those living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.

Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

The tier allocations will be reviewed on December 30.

What’s open?

Those providing essential goods and services, including:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres and Christmas tree retailers, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • medical and dental services
  • vets and pet shops
  • animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • mobility and disability support shops
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
  • outdoor playgrounds
  • outdoor gym, pools, sports courts and facilities
  • golf courses
  • archery/driving/shooting ranges (outdoors)
  • outdoor riding centres

Find full government guidance on Tier 4 here


  1. Our daughter has had an operation and is staying with us with the three grandchildren whilst she is recovering from her operation. So that is not going to change. Boris or no Boris.

    • Rules are rules .
      Don’t obey them people should be fined .
      Simple really .
      I’m sick of delivering food to people who break rules putting myself at risk and all flouting people get to sit on there arse at home . Maybe supermarkets will now priority the elderly and every one else can go and get food themselves also bring in rule 1person only anymore you get turned away .

    • Ann, I believe you qualify as her & her children’s support bubble. So none of you have anything to worry about or fear.

    • Ann

      Dont think you would be breaking at rules. Its households that cant mixed if they have moved in with for lockdown your household is you, your daughter, and grandkids. They just cant keep going from one house to another every few days.

  2. Sad times. My mum is terminally ill (age 62) and was in tears earlier at the thought that her final Christmas isn’t what she’d hoped for. Fingers crossed we can all see our loved ones before long and this will save many unnecessary deaths. My son is too young for the vaccine but needs shielding so please please get the vaccine for the sake of others like him who will be relying on herd immunity. Happy Christmas all x

    • My Daughter lives in Ramsgate and we also had a teary chat tonight as I am in the same situation as your Mum and i really understand you. Its a sad situation but have hope as at least were all being really sensible and saving lives. We will soon meet again and my heart goes out to you and your dear Mum God bless you and your family and thinking of you. XXX

  3. For small Independent shops & other business’, this is disastrous. Those that have suffered the past two lockdowns have had devastating effects…. this one could be the finale for many of us.
    Will the Government help us? Remains to be seen.

    • Depends the shops. My local small independent grocery store is having a boom year, as is the greengrocers and butchers!

  4. See the selfish people are at it all ready moaning
    Boris or no boris . Maybe a fine should be issued .
    It’s the selfish that have caused it to go this far so .

    • I don’t think she is breaking the law in any way-if she has had an operation then she needs help as you aren’t allowed to do any heavy lifting, bending can be a big issue depending on what surgery etc & looking after children in her condition isn’t realistic & thus Ann & her family is her support bubble.

  5. If we want to see an end to Covid-19, we need to stop spreading it around. If that means we have to be a bit less ‘entitled’ then hard luck. Christmas is one day and isn’t meant to be an exercise in gluttony and greed (no, I am not religious). Just do as asked and try to exercise some common sense. It won’t kill you but Covid might.

    • Well, people were fleeing London in their droves by train last night-now spreading the new & more virulent strain all over the country. 2021 is likely going to be even worse than 2020 thanks to the selfish public.

      Hope your five days or whatever of Christmas is worth it, because your actions will swamp the NHS, thousands more will die & you just condemned the entire country to tier 4 lockdown & lockdowns will now likely have to be longer thanks to you. Just hope the relatives you ‘have to see’ are still around next Christmas-because you may well have killed them. If the vaccine on the market & those in production aren’t effective, or as effective as they looked to be for the initial strain, then you have put us back to square one by transferring it from London & South East to the entire country where it was being contained at small levels.

  6. Boris johnson has really gone to town on us as a country he has killed tens of thousands of people by not acting when he should of done, he put us on the first lock down way to late then instead of listening to scientists he waited weeks before putting us on another lockdown and now because of his actions the only time of the year are kids and other members of families can get together has been cancelled all because are murderous pm has acted way way to late throughout this pandemic

    • Yep, he said from the start that he would follow the science, but has ignored it when things needed to be done. If Covid had been taken seriously in January rather than dithering & doing nothing until mid March then likely we would be in a much better place now, the same as waiting as long as he did in November. Now we have a more virulent mutation that also greatly effects the young & he is still intending to send all the kids back to school & college/university in January.

  7. Am sick of tier4 and very sad the also very disappointed alls my familys and l havent see to my mum live in near Christchurch shes 83 age alone home and hopefully very soon come new vaccine and l alway praying alls time and plse plse be sensible very important stay safe as mask wear covering on face and plse plse not ingore and knw some peoples is selfish dont care festival without mask wear covering on face that forget alots died peoples worse then last on april..

  8. stay at home ,this will never end stop being Selfish then we can get back to Normal,and see our familys and loved ones

  9. Let’s all just knuckle down and beat this virus once and for all.
    We can then look forward to a much better time when we can all meet up and have a jolly good knees up A special one off Bank holiday may be a good idea so Street parties could be organized so people could meet up and celebrate.

  10. Thank you Steve. No we are not breaking any laws and would not do so. Covid has not been easy to manage for any government but it has been mismanaged by this one and we and the government only find that out after the event once tiers 1,2,3, had passed. The only country that I know of that has no virus is New Zealand because they were on the ball from day one, we in the U.K. are still walking in the dark from one lockdown to the next . I would think the NZ model of dealing with Covid 19 would have been the one to copy. Also the test centres need to be used as vaccine centres as we’ll as test. Before our daughter came home from hospital we went to be tested and we were the only car there, I said they did not look very busy and the lady replied “ no we are not” . It can’t be rocket science to have vaccinators based there. The sooner we all have the vaccine the sooner life can return to some kind of normality. However in 4 days the government said 345.000 had, had the vaccine, with a population of around 68 million there needs to be at least a million vaccinated each day to make a real difference.

    • Well, we have to hope the vaccine is as effective on the new mutation, it is now accounting for between 43-62 percent of new cases depending where you are in London & the South East. With last night’s insane mass exodus of people from London & the South East by trains & no doubt many by car-the new strain which was only present in small numbers elsewhere in the country will now become widespread.

      I personally cannot have the current vaccine on the market because of prior bad reactions to medicines etc which caused severe breathing problems, but I looked at the online calculator that tells you when you are due to get it & mine was from late June to late September of 2021-as there are some 38-39 odd million ahead of me & no doubt many others who fall into the same criteria,so even if it is effective against the new mutation or mutations as this thing tries to survive it is still going to be a huge issue getting it to people in a reasonable time frame. Pfizer & BioNTech are still refusing to publish the full trial data & seem to have no idea themselves how long their vaccine is effective for-which is worrying.

      • People have no idea how long the immune response will last because a) the virus has only been around for a year and b) the vaccine has only been in use publicly for a few days.
        But *any* immunity is better than no immunity. Every little step helps.
        And don’t forget that another two vaccines (one of which uses a different mechanism) are about to be rolled out, more than tripling the number of actual shots available.
        In the meanwhile, let’s have a bit of common sense, and have a quieter Christmas. Don’t do anything that’s going to facilitate virus spread.

  11. I think people that have left tier 4 should be fined. But if people think this hasn’t spread to the rest of the country I think will be shocked. Just like parts of Kent on the last lockdown when places like Ashford and more affluent parts were moaning that they had been put into tier 3 and now have higher cases than Thanet. All to easy to go on hind site and criticise governments as much as Boris is a…….. . Europe’s figures have been massively massaged to reflect there own agendas in these awful times hope everyone stays safe and make the best of what we’ve got.

    • I see the Muppets/flat earthers have gone underground they are the ones that have helped spread this virus by going on their demos without masks they all should have been made to sign a disclaimer to the NHS Government Conspiracy!?? Really get real Muppets

  12. My parents (over 70, one a diabetic so classed as vulnerable) live on the border of Tier 4. Their click and collect Tesco is over the border. How are they supposed to get their essential shopping if they are not allowed to leave the Tier 4 area? They are not mixing with as many people by doing this as they’d have to trying to do the big weekly shop in store in a Tier 4 location. There are like two staff members in the click and collect place at Tesco who leave the trays of groceries at the boot of the car while you wait in the car/at a distance who then retreat inside while you load and then only collect the empty trays once you’re back inside your vehicle. How is that more risky that some of the listed permitted exceptions like going to work outside of Tier 4 or visiting your bubble household? Food is essential. My parents have been following the governments rules throughout this year and don’t deserve to be thrown under the bus at this most critical time. They can’t be the only people in the same boat either. They are supposed to be picking up their Xmas food including the turkey tomorrow. It’s also not like they’re driving 50 miles or more to get food. It is far too late to make alternative arrangements such as getting a Tesco slot at another store that’s further away but in Tier 4.

    • One of the side effects of the CV is a loss of common sense.
      Unfortunately, there is, as yet, no vaccine available.
      The whole point of lockdown or Tiers is to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
      Ask yourself the question “is my activity essential (ie food, medicine); is my activity more or less likely to spread the virus?”
      Then decide what’s best.

  13. To non mask wearers stop imposing your death wish on the responsible people of Thanet just wear a freakin’ mask. Nine months stuck indoors is no joke you should try it some time. Give us all a break.

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