Coronavirus tier system

21 December 2020

The new national lockdown

The Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 January 2021 of a new national lockdown overrides the existing tier system of restrictions set out below.

We have been in touch with government officials to establish what this means for housing associations.

Key points for housing associations

From 19 December, England is in a four tier system of coronavirus restrictions. 

The government has committed to reviewing the tier system regularly, with the next review scheduled for 30 December. There will also be a temporary relaxation of the restrictions for tiers 1, 2 and 3 (but not tier 4) on Christmas Day (25 December).

This page provides information on the key restrictions in each tier.  The full government advice is available on the government’s website and check out our advice page for links to key resources and publications.

We have set out below the information applying to all tiers across England. You can skip ahead to your relevant tier by clicking on the links below.

Main points for housing associations

The following rules apply to all tiers across England:

  • Moving home: renters and homeowners are still able to move, and removal firms and estate agents can still operate, provided the latest government guidance on moving home safely is followed.
  • Shared accommodation: There are no restrictions on people moving permanently into new shared accommodation. Non-essential indoor communal areas where it would not be possible to maintain social distancing should be closed.  Shared outdoor spaces such as communal gardens may remain open for use by tenants, but the latest government guidance on maintaining social distancing must be followed.
  • Repairs and maintenance: landlords can continue to carry out all repairs, maintenance and safety inspections, including in the homes of clinically extremely vulnerable people, provided the work is undertaken in line with the latest public health advice and relevant coronavirus guidance – for more information, see the government’s updated guidance on working safely in other people’s homes The only exception is when a resident is self-isolating, in which case no work should be carried out in their home unless it is to remedy a direct risk to their safety or the safety of their household.
  • Construction: construction sites can continue, but must follow coronavirus safety guidance.
  • Evictions: The government’s rule ensuring bailiffs do not enforce evictions remains in place until 11 January 2021 – this means that no eviction notices can be served until 11 January at the earliest and, given the 14 day notice period required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January 2021 at the earliest. The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances: illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing, where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant, and extreme rent arrears equivalent to 9 months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted.  You can read more in the government’s guidance on the possession action process
  • Offices: where possible, all staff must work from home.

Guidance for the different tiers

The following highlights some of the main advice for the three tiers.  The full advice can be found on the government’s website.

Tier 1 (medium alert)

Sheltered and supported housing

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Close-contact indoor visits supported by testing can take place. Cafes and canteens can stay open, as can services providing food or drink to those experiencing homelessness. More details coronavirus guidance and information for supported housing providers is set out on our website. 

Travel between tiers

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, because of caring responsibilities or to visit your support bubble. Avoid all travel to tier 4 areas other than for essential reasons. You can travel through a tier 3 or 4 area as part of a longer journey.

Gatherings

Socialising indoors and outdoors is limited to groups of 6 (the ‘rule of 6’), other than where a legal exemption applies.

Businesses and venues

Can remain open; early closure (11pm) applies to some entertainment venues such as cinemas and museums.

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
  • Stop taking orders after 10pm.

Businesses 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.

Indoor and outdoor events

Public attendance is permitted, but is limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Can continue.

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Can continue if the rule of 6 is followed.

Tier 2 (high alert)

Sheltered and supported housing

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Close-contact indoor visits supported by testing can take place. Cafes and canteens can stay open, as can services providing food or drink to those experiencing homelessness. More details coronavirus guidance and information for supported housing providers is set out on our website

Travel between tiers

If you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary. Avoid all travel to tier 4 areas other than for essential reasons. You can travel through a tier 3 or 4 area as a part of a longer journey.

Gatherings

You must not socialise indoors, whether at home or in a public place, with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble

Socialising outdoors is limited to the rule of 6.

Businesses and venues

Can remain open; early closure (11pm) applies to some entertainment venues such as cinemas and museums.

Hospitality

Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Businesses can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.

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
  • Stop taking orders after 10pm

Businesses 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

Indoor and outdoor events

Public attendance is permitted, but is limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Can continue. 

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with).

Tier 3 (very high alert)

Sheltered and supported housing

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits. Close-contact indoor visits supported by testing can take place. Cafes and canteens can stay open, as can services providing food or drink to those experiencing homelessness. More details coronavirus guidance and information for supported housing providers is set out on our website

Travel between tiers

If you live in a tier 3 area, avoid travelling outside of your area, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary. If you do travel to a lower tier, you must continue to follow tier 3 rules. Avoid all travel to tier 4 areas other than for essential reasons. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Gatherings

You must not socialise indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.

Businesses and venues

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close, but there are several exemptions including for those who use these venues as their main residence.

Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close.

Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close.

Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.

Hospitality

Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close, though they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Indoor and outdoor events

Cannot take place. 

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place.

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Cannot take place.

Tier 4 (stay at home)

Visiting relatives in care home

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits supported by testing, which are allowed in Tiers 1-3, will not be allowed in Tier 4. The government guidance will be updated shortly clarifying how visits in Tier 4 should be conducted.

Gatherings and travel

If you live in a tier 4 area, you must not leave your home or garden except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ – these include for work (where you can’t work from home), volunteering, essential activities (for example buying food and medicine), fulfilling legal obligations, education and childcare, to visit people in your support bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, and for medical reasons. You can continue to do unlimited outdoor exercise alone, or with your household, support bubble or one other person.
You must not leave your tier 4 area other than for legally permitted reasons.

Businesses and venues

All non-essential retail must close, but can continue to operate click-and-collect. Community centres and halls must also close except for a limited number of exempt activities

Hospitality

All hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close, though they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Indoor and outdoor events

Cannot take place.

Organised outdoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Cannot take place.

Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes

Cannot take place.

Who to speak to

Catherine Ryder, Director of Policy and Research