England’s Three Tier Lockdown and Wales’ Firebreak Lockdown

Recently, the UK government announced the introduction of the Three Tier Lockdown for those living and working in England. Following a series of local lockdowns across Wales, including Newport, Cardiff and Wrexham, a national lockdown has been announced. Known as a “firebreak”, the devolved government has introduced this short, sharp measure to regain control of coronavirus. As seen so far, there is significant controversy across the governments regarding when and where lockdowns should be put in place. Therefore, it is vital that employers remain aware of the rules and what the implications are for their business. 

What is the Three Tier Lockdown?

On 12th October the government introduced a three tier system in England, which is a new system of "Local Covid Alert Levels”. The approach enables the government to place different parts of the country into different categories based on rates of infection.

What are the rules for each tier? 

Tier 1 (medium level)

  • Abide by the “Rule of six”
  • Closure of hospitality venues at 10pm

Tier 2 (high level)

  • No mixing with other households indoors 
  • “Rule of six” applies outdoors and in private gardens 

Tier 3 (very high level)

  • Government will set a “baseline” of measures 
  • Prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens 
  • Closing pubs and bars unless they can operate as a restaurant 
  • People advised against travelling in and out of these areas


What is the firebreak lockdown?

The Welsh Government has taken a more aggressive approach in a bid to suppress another spike of COVID-19. The national restrictions began at 6pm on Friday 23rd October and will last until 12:01am on Monday 9th November 2020. 

What are the firebreak rules? 

The main restrictions include:

  • staying home except for very limited purpose, such as food shopping, exercising and picking up medicine
  • not visiting other households or meeting with people you do not live with
  • closing certain businesses and venues, such as bars, restaurants and most shops
  • wearing face coverings in the indoor public spaces hat remain open, including on public transport and in taxis

What are the rules about working from home?

You must work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, but are able to work safely in your workplace, you may enter the workplace provided that it remains open. Employers should not place employees under pressure to return to the workplace if there is not a demonstrated business need for them to do so.

For example, occupations like construction and manufacturing can continue, subject to ensuring that all reasonable measures are taken to limit the spread of coronavirus. Tradespeople can continue to carry our work in people’s homes, as long as both the worker and household members have no symptoms of coronavirus. No work should be carried out in a household where someone is isolating, unless the fault poses a direct risk to people’s safety e.g. emergency plumbing.

Additionally, travelling to a workplace in Wales is a reasonable excuse to leave home. People living in Wales can also travel to England for work if it is necessary and they cannot work from home.

What businesses have to close under the new restrictions?

  • food and drink premises, but food delivery and takeaway can continue
  • all retail businesses must close, but there are a number of exceptions including pharmacies, petrol stations, post offices and car garages
  • hair salons, barbers and close contact services including beauty and massage therapists
  • shopping centres
  • Hotels, campsites, caravan parks and houses for commercial use
  • recycling and refuse centres