What England’s new national lockdown rules mean for you – and when they could end

Retail, entertainment and overnight accommodation

All non-essential shops, entertainment outlets and hotels must close nationwide, as the Government has levied the previous Tier 4 rules related to these categories on the whole country.

Supermarkets, chemists, garden centres and builders’ merchants may remain open; all other shops and market stalls must close.

Theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, galleries, casinos, bowling alleys and funfairs cannot open. Hairdressers, beauticians, nail and tanning salons, spas, and tattoo and piercing parlours must shut too.

Hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites are banned from housing guests, unless providing a roof to people who cannot go home, are enrolled in a homeless support scheme, or need accommodation for work purposes.

Read more: What are the rules for non-essential shops?


All restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and social clubs are banned from opening their doors to customers. Alcohol may no longer be sold as a takeaway in a tightening of previous Tier 4 rules. However, food and soft drinks can still be provided via takeaway, click-and-collect, and delivery services until 11pm.

Concerns had arisen on Whitehall that people were buying takeaway alcoholic beverages and then consuming them directly outside hospitality venues, leading to crowds building up.

Read more: What are the five levels of Covid alert in the UK?

International travel

Only essential journeys overseas are permitted, such as for work. 

Pre-departure testing of travellers inbound to England and Scotland is to be introduced as part of a potential toughening of border controls to combat the spread of Covid.

All passengers excluding hauliers will have to show they had tested negative for Covid up to 72 hours before arrival at a UK airport or port under the proposals.

The measures would be on top of the current quarantine restrictions that require any arrival from a country without a travel corridor to quarantine for 10 days, an isolation period that can be halved if the passenger pays for a private test on the fifth day.

It is understood Boris Johnson has asked transport and home office ministers and officials to review whether border controls need to be tightened further.

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People may still form a childcare bubble, through which they can provide or receive childcare from one other household if they live with a child under 14.

Support bubbles also remain permissible. A person is eligible to form a support bubble if they live alone, if their household includes a child under the age of one, or if they are a single adult living with one or more children under the age of 18. 

A support bubble may include a maximum of two households and should be “fixed”; people are advised against switching between different bubbles.

Amateur and professional sports

All amateur sports are now banned, including outdoor games such as golf and tennis, as well as children’s sport. This marks a toughening of the Tier 4 rules, which had ordered indoor gyms and sports facilities to close, but allowed any outdoor sports courts, gyms, swimming pools, archery driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas to remain open.

Unlike the first lockdown in March, outdoor playgrounds will remain open.

Elite sportspeople and their coaches, as well as parents of athletes aged under 18, are still permitted to gather in order to compete and train.

Read more: Will elite sport continue and what form of exercise and activities can we still do?


Despite initial confusion, the Government has confirmed that fishing is allowed during the third lockdown

The Angling Trust made an  urgent representation following the announcement of a lockdown on January 4, after fishing was banned in England, but not Scotland and Wales.

The Government formally responded to the trust, and stated that after considering the benefits of fishing to individual health and wellbeing, fishing is permitted as a form of exercise and can therefore continue. 

The Government and the Angling Trust have stressed that people must follow Covid rules, such as staying local, adhering to social distancing rules and limiting the amount of time spent outdoors. Overnight fishing and organised gatherings are not permitted under the new rules. 

Car garages

Under the latest government advice, car-related services such as vehicle repair and MOT garages are permitted to open. Fuel stations and automatic car washes can also open during lockdown, alongside vehicle hire and taxi services.

Covid regulations must remain in place at all the above. However, car showrooms must close. 


People deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable”, which means they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, have been ordered to shield once again. They should avoid the workplace or school, and should aim to visit shops or the pharmacy only at quieter times of day, or else ask friends, family or volunteers to collect supplies on their behalf. It echoes advice first issued in the initial March lockdown and latterly applied in Tier 4 areas.

Worship, weddings and funerals

Communal and individual prayer will be permitted to continue, marking a change in strategy from the first lockdown. However, Tier 4 requirements will now apply nationwide, meaning people will be required to observe social distancing rules and will be banned from attending services at churches and other places of worship with anyone outside of their household.

For weddings and civil ceremonies, only six people will be permitted to attend. Funerals can be attended by up to 30 people, although both are subject to strict social distancing rules. 

The decision to keep churches open comes after ministers said in December that they recognised the importance that many people placed on religious worship.

Read more: What the latest lockdown restrictions mean for your wedding

When could we see the end of lockdown rules?

Boris Johnson left open the door for the measures to remain in place beyond the initial six-week period set out.

It is unlikely that restrictions will be lifted before the middle of February, with lockdown regulations lasting until March 31 after the regulations passed through the Commons on January 6. 

Why do we need a third lockdown? 

The Telegraph understands that the tipping point for the Prime Minister came when he was told that more than 80,000 people had tested positive on December 29 – around 20 times the peak of last spring.

The Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre placed the country in Covid Alert Level 5 for the first time since the system was introduced last year, meaning there is “a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”.

It follows warnings from doctors that many hospitals around the country have already exceeded the numbers of Covid patients they were treating at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

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