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What new tier 2 lockdown restrictions mean for UK small businesses

Sean LaPointe
·5-min read
Man in a clothing store in a medical mask because of a coronovirus.
Man in a clothing store in a medical mask because of a coronovirus.

Are you a small business owner in a tier 2 area and wondering how the new coronavirus restrictions will affect you? The rules seem to be changing daily, so it’s understandable if you are a little confused.

Here’s a useful guide to help you make sense of what the new tier 2 restrictions might mean for your business.

What’s the reason for the new changes?

The new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions announced by Boris Johnson on 12 October aims to simplify local lockdown restrictions. it’s hoped it will help control the spread of the coronavirus, as infection rates have risen in the past few weeks.

Under the new system, different areas of England will be split into medium, high and very high alert levels based on their infection rates.

Each alert level will be subject to a specific set of restrictions, with those ranked as ‘very high’ facing the toughest of these restrictions.

What are the new tiers?

Tier 1

Tier 1 the ‘medium’ alert level. The majority of the country is in tier 1. Areas under this tier will be subject to national measures, including:

  • A ban on gatherings of more than 6 people

  • A 10pm curfew for businesses like bars, pubs and restaurants

Tier 2

Tier 2 is the ‘high’ alert level. It covers areas with higher rates of infections but not enough to warrant placement in the ‘very high’ alert level. The restrictions here will include those in tier 1 plus others such as:

  • No mixing of households in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place, unless within a support bubble

  • No socialising of more than six people in outdoor settings, including private gardens

  • Travel reductions, meaning people should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make as much as possible

The most recent areas to move into tier 2 lockdown are London, York and Essex. Other major cities already in tier 2 include Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Doncaster, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham City.

Tier 3

Tier 3 is the ‘very high’ alert level. it covers areas with the highest rates of infection. The restrictions here include:

  • No mixing of households indoors or in private or pub gardens (and the rule of six applies in public spaces like parks)

  • All bars and pubs must close unless they also operate as a restaurant

  • People should try as much as possible not to travel either in or out of tier 3 areas

The Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral) and parts of Lancashire (Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley) are the only regions currently under tier 3 lockdown. Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, which are currently in tier 2, will move to tier 3 on Friday 23 October and Saturday 24 October, respectively.

What do the new tier 2 restrictions mean for small businesses?

For now, most small businesses (other than those that remain closed by law such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues) can continue to operate in tier 2 as long as they do so in a Covid-secure manner.

That means that if you have a restaurant, barbershop, saloon, gym, etc., you can carry on with business.

Businesses selling food for consumption off the premises can continue doing so after the curfew as long as this is via a delivery, click-and-collect or drive-thru service.

Unfortunately, while businesses might remain open, the fact that people from multiple households cannot mix in venues such as restaurants, bars and pubs means that most are likely to be serving fewer customers than usual.

This has led some trade bodies to describe tier 2 restrictions as the ‘worst of both worlds’.

Their reasoning is that tier 2 restrictions not only damage the amount of trade for small businesses but also do not come with the same financial support (such as Job Support Scheme and the Local Restrictions Support Grant) available to businesses in tier 3 areas.

When will the restrictions end for small businesses?

The good news is that tier 2 restrictions will undergo a review every two weeks. Therefore, an area under tier 2 might be downgraded to tier 1, where the restrictions are less strict.

The bad news is that if infection rates get worse, tier 2 areas might move to tier 3. This would mean more restrictions and would make things tougher than they already are for small businesses in tier 2.

However, it’s still too early to tell what the future holds, so we’ll have to wait and see. The new rules might still lead to lower infection rates, as they are intended to. This might then translate to the easing of current restrictions.

If you are running a small business in a tier 2 area, one of the most useful things you can do in the meantime is protect your finances.

The post What new tier 2 lockdown restrictions mean for UK small businesses appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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