Teesside is to enter the highest level of coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Thursday, the Government has confirmed.
Non-essential shops will close as the area moves back to a lockdown similar to that of the national lockdown in November.
Here we’ve looked at some of the key questions
What is happening?
Teesside is to move into the highest Tier 4 lockdown after the Government announced large areas of the north and Midlands would join London and the south-east under the toughest restrictions.
It follows a surge in cases in recent weeks after the emergence of a new covid-19 variant.
A further 50,023 new covid cases were recorded in the UK on Wednesday, as well as 981 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test – more than double Tuesday’s total.
On Teesside infection rates have remained steady in recent weeks except for in Hartlepool, which has suffered a spike in cases.
It will be the 10th different form of lockdown for Teesside since the start of the pandemic.
The area has been under some form of additional local or national restrictions since the start of October.
Where is it happening?
The Tier 4 apply to the whole of the Tees Valley
It means they will have to be followed by residents and businesses in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Darlington.
North Yorkshire will move into Tier 3 from Tier 2, which means hospitality venues in areas such as Great Ayton and Stokesley must close except for takeaways.
When it is happening?
The new restrictions will come into place at midnight on Thursday.
Why is Teesside going into Tier 4?
The Government said more areas move to Tier 4 to limit the spread of the virus as case rates rise across the country.
The Midlands, North East, parts of the North West and parts of the South West are among those escalated to Tier 4, with almost all remaining areas escalated to Tier 3
The spread of the new strain of covid-19 is increasing in the South West, Midlands and parts of the North West, the Government said and there are concerns of it gaining a foothold in areas such as Teesside.
Infection rates on Teesside, while well below the peak in November, are still a cause for concern and falls in early December have tailed off.
There are also continued reports of pressure on Teesside hospitals due to high numbers of covid-19 patients and normal winter pressures.
What are the rules in Tier 4?
If you live in Tier 4 you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ – see below for the full list
All non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres, and other entertainment venues (such as theatres and cinemas) must close in Tier 4.
As in previous lockdowns there are exemptions – if you need to leave your home for essential shopping, education, childcare, work (if you can’t work from home) and unlimited exercise. Outdoor sport can also take place.
The public is advised not to leave or enter a Tier 4 area, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight anywhere other than their own home.
You can read the full list of rules and exceptions HERE
Where will close?
It’s been a tough year for retailers and the next one will start in tough circumstances, as Tier 4 will force them to close.
The Government’s Tier 4 guidance states that non-essential retailers – which include clothes and homeware stores – have to close, along with betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs must stay shut, although takeaway, drive-thru, collect and delivery services are allowed.
Indoor gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, entertainment venues and visitor attractions must also close in Tier 4.
However, outdoor facilities – such as golf courses and playgrounds – can remain open as long as they operate under Covid-secure guidelines.
Where will remain open?
Essential services, such as shops selling food, are among the venues and businesses which can open.
The list of businesses and venues allowed to open in Tier 4 also includes:
supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
laundrettes and dry cleaners
medical and dental services
vets and pet shops
animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
agricultural supplies shops
mobility and disability support shops
storage and distribution facilities
car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
outdoor gym, pools, sports courts and facilities
archery/driving/shooting ranges (outdoors)
outdoor riding centres
places of worship
crematoriums and burial grounds
How long will it last?
The new tier measures will come into force at 12.01am on Thursday.
The next review of the tiers is due to take place in two weeks, meaning that the Tier 4 restrictions will be in place until at least January 13.
What happens if I break the rules?
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
What about schools?
Schools will remain open but there will be a staggered return from the Christmas holidays.
Primaries are set to reopen fully on Monday in most areas while secondary pupils in years 11 and 13 will go back on January 11.
All other pupils are expected to return on January 18.
What about the vulnerable?
All clinically extremely vulnerable individuals will be asked to shield if they live in Tier 4 areas.
People will be sent a letter or email with advice and details of support.
In the meantime they should follow the shielding advice set out on GOV.UK.