What's in the Winter COVID Plan?

Written by James Shaw


The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has set out plans for the reopening of the retail, hospitality, and personal care sectors across England from December 2nd.

The lifting of lockdown restrictions at the beginning of next month will be accompanied by a return to the three-tier system that preceded the national lockdown. More regions are set to enter the highest tier, and the restrictions will be tougher across all tiers.  

The retail and leisure sectors are the biggest beneficiaries of the planned relaxation. As part of the lifting of the national lockdown, non-essential retailers will be permitted to reopen in time of the annual Christmas rush. Gyms and leisure centres will also be able to able to open their doors once again across all tiers. 

The most stringent rules are reserved for hospitality businesses. Pubs and restaurants in tier three areas will be required to remain closed, except for delivery and takeaway. In tier two, venues will be able to reopen, but alcohol will only be served if provided with a "substantial meal". Pubs and restaurants will, however, be free to reopen in tier one areas, provided they are COVID secure.  

There will also be a change to the controversial 10 pm curfew for hospitality. Under the new rules, last orders will take place at 10 pm, but guests will be given another hour to finish their drinks. 

What are the rules for each COVID tier?

The new rules by tier are: 

All tiers

  • Reopening of retail, personal care, and leisure businesses - including gyms
  • People should work from home where they can

Tier 1

Tier 2

  • Only pubs serving substantial meals can reopen
  • Outdoor sports events with up to 2000 spectators
  • No mixing of households indoors

Tier 3

  • Hospitality businesses must remain closed - with the exception of takeaway
  • Indoor entertainment venues must also remain closed

What does this mean for retail businesses?

The news has been welcomed by a retail sector expected to be hit hard by the imposition of lockdown restrictions over the Black Friday weekend. Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "the important issue is to ensure all shops can reopen from the start of December as the all-important Christmas shopping period gets into full swing. Retailers have spent hundreds of millions on safety measures to protect colleagues and customers, and they stand prepared for reopening.”

What do the rule new rules mean for the hospitality sector?  

Irrespective of which tier your business is in, remote ordering will be key to a successful reopening. Businesses in tier one and two areas will be required to offer table service, and venues in tier three will be restricted to delivery and collection. Click here to find out more about how to manage remote ordering in your venue.

The full Winter COVID Plan can be found here.

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