Local Covid restrictions explained: What does the new Covid tier system mean for events in England?

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England has been waiting with bated breath to discover what’s going to happen when the current national lockdown ends on 2nd December 2020. Finally, we have some answers – Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on 24th November that the country will be returning to a three-tiered system of Covid restrictions until next spring. 

The new rules have been set out to take us through to March 2021, and are largely the same as the pre-November lockdown tier system. But there’ll be some differences – and the Prime Minister has stated that it’s likely that more regions will be in the highest tier (tier 3) than before. 

What’s going to change when the new Covid rules come into effect?

The main differences that will be felt across all regions in England include the re-opening of non-essential shops, as well as hairdressers (and other personal care businesses), and gyms. The formal instruction for people to stay at home is also coming to an end – although how freely people can socialise will depend largely on what tier their region is in. 

Jump straight to:

What the Covid tiers mean for events in England this winter

Some of the main takeaways for the events industry that came out of the recent tier system announcement include:

  • Hospitality venues in tiers 1 and 2 will be able to open again, with limitations on what they offer and the times in which they can operate. Hospitality venues in tier 3 will remain closed.

  • Public attendance at indoor and outdoor events in tiers 1 and 2 will be permitted, but with restrictions on numbers. Restrictions on events in tier 3 (indoor and outdoor) are still to be strict, with most events not permitted. 


  • Public attendance at spectator sport events will be permitted in tiers 1 and 2, but again with restrictions on numbers. This will not be permitted in any way in tier 3. 

  • The rule of 6 still applies across all tiers – meaning there must be no socialising in groups larger than 6 either indoors or outdoors. There are further restrictions on this for tiers 2 and 3. You can read more on that below.

Let’s take a closer look and at what the restrictions for tiers 1, 2 and 3 mean for the events industry:

Tier 1: Medium alert

Tier 1 will be assigned to areas with a lower or slower rising number of infections. Key points about tier 1 for the events industry to consider are:

Tier 1: Socialising 

  • Groups of up to six people (can be from different households) are allowed to socialise both indoors and outdoors. This is called the ‘rule of 6’.

Tier 1: Hospitality venues 

  • Most businesses and venues are allowed to be open, as long as they are run in a Covid-secure way. This does not include businesses closed by law, like nightclubs. 

  • Hospitality businesses that sell alcohol must provide table service only and take last orders at 10pm. 

  • Hospitality businesses that sell food, alcohol or both must be closed between 11pm - 5am. Food orders for food to be eaten on-site must also have a last orders limit of 10pm. 

  • Hospitality businesses selling food to be eaten off-site (so takeaways, drive-thrus etc.) can continue to do so after 10pm.

  • Casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls must close by 11pm. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open later than 11pm to allow shows that started before 10pm to finish. 

Tier 1: Events and spectator events

  • People can attend outdoor and indoor events (like performances and shows), but this is limited to lowest of these two options:

    • 50% capacity

    • or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

  • People can attend outdoor and indoor spectator sport and business events, as long as social distancing rules are abided by. Attendance must be limited to the lowest of these two options: 

    • 50% capacity

    • or either 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Tier 1: Organised sport and exercise classes

  • Organised sport and exercise classes to take place outdoors are allowed.

  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes to take place indoors are allowed, as long as the rule of 6 is followed.

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Tier 2: High alert

Tier 2 will be assigned to areas with a higher or rapidly rising number of infections. Key points about tier 2 for the events industry to consider are:

Tier 2: Socialising 

  • Indoor socialising is not allowed, except for people who live in the same household or are in a support bubble with each other. 

  • Groups of up to six people (can be from different households) are allowed to socialise outdoors.

Tier 2: Hospitality venues 

  • Most businesses and venues are allowed to be open if they meet certain criteria, and as long as they are run in a Covid-secure way. This does not include businesses closed by law, like nightclubs.

  • Hospitality businesses that sell alcohol are only allowed to be open if they’re operating as restaurants – so all customers need to order a meal, rather than just visiting the venue for drinks. Alcohol can only be served with ‘substantial meals’, and venues will have to operate with table service only.  

  • Hospitality businesses that sell food, alcohol or both must be closed between 11pm - 5am. Drinks, and food to be eaten on-site must have a last orders limit of 10pm. 

  • Hospitality businesses selling food to be eaten off-site (so takeaways, drive-thrus etc.) can continue to do so after 10pm.

  • Casinos, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities and bingo halls must close by 11pm. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open later than 11pm to allow shows that started before 10pm to finish. 

Tier 2: Events and spectator events

  • People can attend outdoor and indoor events (like performances and shows), but this is limited to lowest of these two options:

    • 50% capacity

    • or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

  • People can attend outdoor and indoor spectator sport and business events, as long as social contact rules are abided by. Attendance must be limited to the lowest of these two options: 

    • 50% capacity

    • or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors

Tier 2: Organised sport and exercise classes

  • Organised sport and exercise classes to take place outside are allowed

  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes to take place inside are only allowed if it’s possible for people to avoid mixing with people they don’t live, or share a support bubble with. 

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Tier 3: Very high alert

Tier 3 will be assigned to areas with a higher or rapidly rising number of infections, where tighter restrictions are needed. Key points about tier 3 for the events industry to consider are:

Tier 3: Socialising 

  • Indoor socialising and socialising in most outdoor spaces is not allowed, except for people who live in the same household or are in a support bubble with each other. 

  • Groups of up to six people (can be from different households) are allowed to socialise in some limited outdoor spaces, which include:

    • parks

    • beaches

    • countryside accessible to the public

    • public gardens 

    • grounds of a heritage site or castle

    • sports facilities

Tier 3: Hospitality venues 

  • Hospitality businesses/venues must be closed, but can still offer takeaway and drive-thru services. 

  • Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must be closed. This includes:

    • indoor play centres and areas, including trampolining parks and soft play

    • casinos

    • bingo halls

    • bowling alleys

    • skating rinks

    • amusement arcades and adult gaming centres

    • laser quests and escape rooms

    • cinemas, theatres and concert halls

    • snooker halls

  • Indoor attractions at outdoor venues must also close. This includes indoor attractions at:

    • zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves

    • aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions

    • model villages

    • museums, galleries and sculpture parks

    • botanical gardens, biomes or greenhouses

    • theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs

    • visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes

    • landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms

Tier 3: Events and spectator events

  • People cannot attend outdoor or indoor events (like performances and shows), except drive-in style events.

  • People cannot attend sports or business events. Elite sporting events can continue but they have to be without in-person audiences.

Tier 3: Organised sport and exercise classes

  • Organised sport and exercise classes to take place outdoors are allowed, except for higher-risk/contact sports or activities. 

  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes cannot take place.

We hope this helps! Keep an eye on our social media channels for more updates.