Posted on: 20 October 2020

Understanding the new COVID-19 measures

As the COVID-19 virus continues to pose a threat to the UK, the government has introduced a new system to help bring the virus under control.

Take a look at the three tiers that the government has outlined that will affect how UK businesses can operate.

What are the new COVID alert tiers?

The government introduced the Three-Tier system called the “Local COVID Alert System”, which uses the levels of “Medium”, “High” and “Very High”.

The different levels will reflect the levels of COVID-19 in a particular area, which will, in turn, dictate the measures that need to be in place to stop the spread of the virus.

The alert levels have been chosen based on a number of criteria including how many cases per 100,000 there is.

Level Amount of cases
1. Medium - Minimum restrictions. Applicable to the whole country Fewer than 100 cases per 100,000
2. High – Implemented when the transmission is not
contained by the local response
More than 100 cases per 100,000
3. Very High - Significant rise in transmission and
the virus is not contained
Significantly high rates of transmission

The new COVID alert levels in detail

On Monday 12th October 2020, the government announced the measures that they will be taking in the fight against COVID-19. The introduction of new local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, businesses, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.

Medium Alert Level

Medium COVID-19 measures are reflective of the current measures that are in place nationwide. These include:

  • No more than 6 people from different households to meet, either indoors or outdoors.
  • Hospitality businesses will close at 10pm.
  • Schools and universities to remain open.

High Alert Level

High alert level measures reflect the measures in place within areas previously in a local lockdown. These include:

  • People from different households will not be allowed to mix indoors
  • When socialising outdoors, people must abide by the rule of 6.
  • Face masks must be worn on public transport and in private hire vehicles.
  • Schools and universities can remain open.

Very High Alert Level

A Very High Level Alert have the following measures in place:

  • No mixing at all with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.
  • Pubs, bars, gyms, leisure centres and betting shops will close. The only exception to this is if the bar operates as if it were a restaurant serving main meals, with alcohol only being served as part of the meal
  • Schools and universities can remain open.

COVID rules for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

There are different restrictions in-place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Scotland has its own COVID-19 measures in place, which include:

  • No social mixing with anyone outside of your household or support bubble
  • Certain hospitality businesses are to close between the hours of 6pm and 6am whilst others have had to close completely for a temporary period
  • Additional restrictions are in force for the central belt, including Glasgow, Ayrshire, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife.


Wales has its own COVID-19 measures in place, which include:

  • Rule of 6 to be observed.
  • Cafes, bars and restaurants must stop selling alcohol at 10pm.
  • There may be tighter restrictions imposed in areas of the country. In fact, Wales is set to enter a two week 'circuit breaker' lockdown from 6pm on Friday 23rd October whereby people will be told to stay at home where possible and all non-essential businesses will have to close

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has its own COVID-19 measures in place, which include:

  • No social mixing indoors.
  • Rule of 6 to be observed outdoors.
  • Hospitality businesses must close at 11pm.
  • Additional rules are to be imposed in Derry City and Strabane with the possibility of more to come

Additional COVID policy announcements

The Prime Minister also announced the following:

  • The Job Support Scheme would cover two-thirds of the wages for businesses who were being forced to close.
  • Cash grants for businesses for up to £3,000 per month.
  • A further £1bn to support councils across the country.
  • More financial support for local test and trace.
  • The use of the armed forces, however, this will purely be to support logistics where required.
  • Liverpool and some surrounding areas as well as the whole of Lancashire have been placed in the “Very High Alert” tier. Hospitality businesses, as well as gyms, leisure centres, casinos and other businesses have closed.
  • Negotiations with local leaders are continuing with the very real possibility of further restrictions coming into force in more areas in the coming days and weeks.

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