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Kent Coronavirus Tier 3: All you need to know

Kent will remain in Tier 3, the government has confirmed today.

The announcement was made today amid concerns relaxing the rules at Christmas will make the already high infection rates in Kent even worse.

Kent will spend another two weeks in Tier 3
Kent will spend another two weeks in Tier 3

Health Secretary Matt Hancock: "As we enter the coldest months we must be vigilant and keep this virus under control.

"This is always the most difficult months for people's health and the NHS. We've come so far we must not blow it now.

"No one wants tougher restrictions for longer than is neccessary but where they are we must put them in places to save lives and protect the NHS.

"I know Tier 3 measures are tough but the best way for everyone to get out of them is to pull together, not just to follow the rules, but do everything they possibly can to stop the virus."

In the south east of England cases are up by 46% and hospital admissions by one third.

Rother and Hastings on the Kent border will be in Tier 3 from Saturday at 12.01am.

Here's a little reminder of what you can and can't do under the Tier 3 system...

What shops will be open?

Possibly the best news for residents and shop owners is that non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales, will all be able to open across the tiered system, including tier three.

Does that include hair, nails and beauty treatments?

Yes! Government guidelines say that personal care and close contact services such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons, spas and beauty services, massage parlours and tanning salons can all reopen on December 2 no matter what tier they are in.

This will come as welcome relief for many, while some felt that those businesses should never have been shut – including one hairdresser who went rogue at the start of the second lockdown.

The restrictions will come into place on December 2
The restrictions will come into place on December 2

What about restaurants and pubs?

Unfortunately, it's as you were during lockdown in terms of hospitality settings under tier three. Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes are to remain closed to seated guests, although they are still permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

Some businesses have already fallen foul of restrictions, including seven within a week in Gravesham.

The infection rate in the UK and Kent and Medway
The infection rate in the UK and Kent and Medway

Can I go to the gym?

Yes you can, as long as you stay inside your housing bubble. It's good news for anyone hoping to get exercise as gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres are all going to be open.

However, in tier three, no group activities are allowed inside, which eliminates a number of options.

When can I see family outside of my household?

To be short, around Christmas time. The government announced two days ago that restrictions will be relaxed in all tiers for five days from Wednseday December 23 to Sunday December 27.

Three bubbles will be able to mix during this time – but we are being advised to proceed with caution.

Covid Tier 3 restrictions at a glance
Covid Tier 3 restrictions at a glance

Can I go on holiday abroad?

Government guidance on international travel is the same across all three tiers– that you see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for each destination and the travel corridors list.

Any hopeful tourists should bear in mind which countries are in a travel corridor and which aren't before going on holiday, to avoid being forced to quarantine upon returning home.

More than 40 people have been fined recently for numerous attempts to cross the channel during lockdown, and police have warned that more will come for anyone found to be "blatantly ignoring" Covid-19 restrictions.

What about domestic travel?

This is a no-go unless you have to travel for work or another obligation; guidelines state you must "avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities".

You can, however, travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

Can I go to my place of worship?

Yes, as long as you stick to social distancing and bubble guidelines. You must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies.

Can I go to watch live sports?

The only way spectators can watch live sport in tier three is through a drive-in – and of course will have to adhere to social bubble guidelines within that.

If the county moves back to tier two, stadiums will be able to host either 50% capacity, or 2,000 people – whichever is lower.

So for any Gillingham FC or Maidstone United fans, this would mean a maximum of 2,000 people in Priestfield or the Gallagher stadium, whereas around 1,500 fans would be able to watch Tonbridge Angels play.

This capacity will increase to up to 4,000 in Tier 1.

Are schools staying open?

Yes, schools and universities will be remaining open in all three tiers.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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