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Don’t fear the tiers!’ – new travel and pub rules for the South West explained

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With the end of the national lockdown and the introduction of the new tier system, the South West is working together to clarify the rules around travelling between tiers to help keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With many residents travelling between Devon, Torbay, Plymouth and Cornwall on a daily basis for work, the school run, or for leisure, it is important for everyone to understand how the tier system works.

From today, Wednesday 2 December, the region’s counties are being placed into one of three tiers, with Tier 1 being classed as ‘medium alert, Tier 2 ‘high alert’ and Tier 3 ‘very high alert’.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly fall into Tier 1, Devon, Somerset and Dorset in Tier 2, and Bristol in Tier 3.

In brief, the rules for each tier are as follows:

Tier 1: Up to six people can meet indoors or outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm.
Tier 2: Up to six people can meet outdoors but no mixing indoors, apart from support bubbles. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm, but alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.
Tier 3: No mixing indoors. People can only meet outdoors in limited places such as parks and public gardens. Pubs and restaurants must close unless they are offering takeaways.

So can you travel?

Put simply, the rules follow you down the tiers, but not up. So if you live in Tier 2 and travel to Tier 1, you must stick to Tier 2 rules. But if you live in Tier 1 and travel to Tier 2, you must follow Tier 2 rules. Those living in Tier 3 should avoid travel altogether unless the journey is essential.

OK, so what’s stopping me in Devon visiting a friend in Cornwall for a pint?

The government has already warned people not to travel to Cornwall to visit its pubs. The reality is though that thousands of residents in the South West will move between different tiers as they go about their everyday lives for work, leisure and the school run. But it’s vital that everyone follows the rules to keep cases low and reduce community transmission regardless of where they live.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate)
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate)

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate) said:

“As people in Devon are getting used to the idea of being in Tier 2, they’ll be working out what they can and can’t do, and how the restrictions impact on their lives.

“I’m asking people to remember why we’re doing this. We’ve been living with COVID-19 for too long, and people frankly are tired of it all. With Christmas around the corner and news today confirming the first approved vaccine, it’s too easy to forget what we’re doing and why.

“But we mustn’t. The vaccine, while excellent news, will not be ready to roll out to the bulk of the general public until late Spring, is my guess today. Sooner of course to key priority groups. But it’s some way off to most of us, which is why we need to be vigilant, and why the restrictions in Tier 2 are vitally important. These restrictions are how we stop the virus from spreading.

“Now, before rules relax further around Christmas, is the time to be even more careful. With families possibly planning to form Christmas bubbles this month, which will increase the risk of spread, it’s really important that we do everything we can.

“Follow the Tier 2 rules. Keep our distance. Wear our face coverings. Wash our hands properly and regularly. We must not mix with others indoors apart from support bubbles, and only meet with up to six people outdoors. Even over Christmas, it’s important that we do not relax our guard.”