NORTH EAST: Full list of new Covid rules
Tougher lockdown rules have come into force in the North East from Wednesday, September 30.
The measures are stricter than those applied since September 18, as coronavirus cases in the region have continued to rise, and ban households from mixing in any ‘indoor setting’.
Here is a full explanation of the new Covid-19 restrictions in our region.
Where do the rules apply?
The restrictions are in place in Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham
What are the household mixing restrictions?
If you live in the affected local areas, you must not (unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble):
host people you do not live with in your home or garden;
meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas;
socialise with people who you do not live with in any indoor settings, including pubs or restaurants, whether those are inside or outside of the affected local areas.
Your household is defined as the people you live with and any support bubble.
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household, on an exclusive basis. Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.
A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household, such as grandparents looking after kids. This must also occur on an exclusive basis – always between the same two households.
What happens if I break the rules?
The police will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fines.
People aged 18 or over can be fined £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days, £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is a separate offence, for which police may issue fines of £10,000.
What are the exemptions to the household mixing ban?
Gatherings within indoor settings, as well as your home or garden, can still take place for these specific purposes:
where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
to attend a birth at the mother’s request
to visit a person who is dying
to fulfil a legal obligation
for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
for the purposes of education or training
for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
to provide emergency assistance
to enable one or more people in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
to facilitate a house move
to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.
What counts as an ‘indoor setting’?
The government is yet to publish a full list of indoor settings that the stricter rules now apply to.
However, council officials have indicated that the ban on household mixing applies to any indoor venue, except for schools and workplaces which are both exempt.
Venues that definitely are classed as indoor settings include restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, casinos, and cafes.
Can I still meet friends or relatives in outdoor public places – like at a park, beach, or a pub beer garden?
Legally, yes – although it is against public health advice and the Rule of Six still applies, so you must not meet up in a group of more than six people.
But the government is advising that people in the North East do not meet up with anyone outside your household or support bubble in any outdoor public venue either – including pub beer gardens and “areas directly outside of settings or venues, such as the pavement or road and parks”.
What are the rules for North East hospitality venues now?
The following must close from 10pm to 5am:
Bars and restaurants (including hotel dining rooms and members’ clubs)
Cafes including workplace canteens (but not including cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, prisons, establishments intended for the use of naval, military or air force purposes and for providing food or drink to the homeless)
Bingo halls and concert halls
Amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
Static/fixed funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks, and adventure parks and activities
Cinemas, theatres or concert halls can stay open beyond 10pm to conclude a performance that has begun before 10pm.
During opening hours, 5am to 10pm, venues serving alcohol must operate table service only for food and drinks – this includes ordering.
Those venues who don’t serve alcohol can operate counter service, but the consumption of food and drinks should take place at a table as much as possible.
Hospitality venues must take reasonable steps to ensure that bookings are not accepted or customers are not admitted onto the premises if:
groups include more than one household and support bubble if they will be located indoors;
groups include more than six people if they will be located outdoors.
As elsewhere in the country, venues must also take details of customers for NHS Test and Trace from September 18.
The following businesses and venues must remain closed nationally:
nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
Businesses can be fined by local authorities or the police if they fail to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law, such as ensuring that people do not meet in their premises with people outside of their household or support bubble, ensuring that tables are appropriately spaced, that loud music isn’t played and that customers do not sing in non-household groups, or dance. Fines will be issued of:
£1,000 for the first offence
£2,000 for the second offence
£4,000 for the third offence
and then £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent offences
What about takeaways?
Hot food takeaways should close to walk-ins between 10pm and 5am each day, but they can continue to operate a delivery service during these hours.
What are the rules on childcare?
You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children.
You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
‘Informal’ childcare, for example grandparents looking after children, is allowed for children under 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.
One set of grandparents living in one household is only allowed to look after one set of children from one other household, as childcare bubbles must be “on an exclusive basis – always the same two households”.
Play-dates or parties are not allowed.
Current advice is to only travel for essential reasons when travelling into, within and out of the seven affected local areas – for example, travelling to work or school, getting essential food or medical supplies, supporting a vulnerable person, or seeking medical care.
Public transport should only be used for essential travel.
People living inside and outside of the affected local areas can continue to travel in and out for work.
You should try not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble.
You can still go on holiday outside of the North East, but you should only do this with people you live with or have formed a support bubble with.
People can visit the region on holiday but must comply with the local restrictions.
Newcastle Airport, train stations and ports remain open and members of the public are permitted to travel to and from these locations.
Sport and physical activity
You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than six outdoors and up to six people indoors (for over 18s).
There is an exemption for indoor sports if it is organised for the purposes of someone who has a disability taking part and for children’s activities.
The additional restrictions brought in on September 30 on mixing with other households within indoor settings do not change these limits.
You can go to gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools as long as they have the required Covid-secure risk assessments and guidelines in place.
You can travel outside the region to play sports, provided it is organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor, business or charity or someone with an official licence.
It is advised that you should not spectate at any sports events, including at professional and semi-professional sports events.
Those who are classed as more medically vulnerable to coronavirus, or who have previously been shielding, are advised to take extra care – but are not being told to shield again yet.
Weddings and funerals
For England, including in the North East, the following attendance limits apply for weddings and funerals:
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to 15 people
Wedding receptions and celebrations can continue for up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal and in a Covid Secure setting, not in a private dwelling.
Funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) are limited to 30 people
All other religious or belief-based standalone life cycle ceremonies or celebrations are limited to 6 people
Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.
The additional restriction on mixing with other households within indoor settings does not change the attendance limits.
Religious ceremonies and places of worship
You may attend a mosque, church, synagogue, temple or other place or worship, but you should socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of two metres, or one metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings).
If possible, prayer or religious services should take place outdoors.
Can I move home?
Yes, this is still allowed.
Local Democracy Reporter