Essex could potentially move into a new tier of coronavirus restrictions before Christmas.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday announced the county would be placed in Tier 2 of the Government’s revamped Covid system when it emerges from the national lockdown on December 2.

Under Tier 2 rules, the ‘rule of six’ will be enforced, meaning no more than six people can gather to socialise in outdoor spaces.

Here are the rules in full.

  • You must not socialise with anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
  • Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants, and hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with “substantial” meals.
  • Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to provide table service only; premises which sell alcohol must close at 11pm and stop taking orders after 10pm.
  • Public attendance at spectator sports and outdoor and indoor events is permitted, but are limited to whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.
  • 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). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
  • Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • Places of worship remain open but worshippers must not socialise with people from outside of their household or support bubble.
  • Weddings and funerals to go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.
  • 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 such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey.

However, there is a chance the county finds itself placed in a new tier before Christmas.

Allocated tiers will be reviewed on Wednesday, December 16.

Essex County Council will have two weeks to bring down infection rates and make its case for less stringent rules.