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The latest COVID-19 restrictions in England

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister on October 12, a new tier system has been introduced in England to standardise local restrictions and help control the virus. Our guide can help you keep up to date with the latest news relevant for you and your business.

Find out the latest on local Restrictions across Greater Manchester

Guide to the local restrictions in Greater Manchester

This page was updated on 21 October 2020.

From October 14, the government has introduced a tier system in England. Where areas will be classified in alert levels – medium, high and very high. For further information on the restrictions by tier and for your local area, see here  

Furthermore, you can find the latest guidance for your area on and through your Local Authority, as well as a timeline for Greater Manchester specific restrictions here. From July 18th, local authorities have new powers in their areas. They are able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces, and cancel events.

 The information below outlines the timeline and reopening plan for August onwards. 

12 October – New tier system announced

On October 12, Boris Johnson introduced a three-tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels in England, set at medium, high, and very high.

  • The “medium” alert level covers most of the country and includes the Rule of Six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
  • The “high” alert level includes restrictions preventing the mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors. In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors.
  • The “very high” alert level will prohibit people from social mixing indoors and in private gardens. There will also be closures for pubs and bars. This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors. However, retail, schools and universities will remain open.

Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region will move into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday October 14.

Local Authorities in Greater Manchester will move into the ‘very high’ level from Friday October 23. 

For further details please visit our page outlining each tier and relevant guidance here

22 September - New measures announced 

Business restrictions and regulations

  • Office workers who can effectively work from home are advised to do so.
  • From September 24, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with *all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm. To help the police enforce this rule that means closing not just calling for last orders. This will also apply to takeaways - though deliveries can continue thereafter.

    *Some exemptions apply, including cinemas, theatres and concert halls which have started shows before 10pm, however they will not be permitted to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm. 

  • In retail, leisure and tourism and other sectors, Government Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.
  • The spread of the virus is now affecting the ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events, so this will be delayed and not from 1 October as had been stated. 

Face coverings

  • From 23 September all customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings.
  • From 24 September, customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings.
  • In addition, from 24 September guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will become law.

    The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence. 

Social restrictions

  • The government will be extending the rule of six to include all adult indoor team sports.
  • From September 28 a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral.

To view the Prime Minister’s full speech, visit the government website here.


9 September – New measures announced

On 9 September the government announced a series of new measures to help control the virus and ensure the number of infections remain low. These include the following:

From Monday 14 September:

  • You must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes.
  • Places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, will still be able to host larger numbers in total, but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
  • Individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 will still be able to gather together.
  • This will not impact education and work settings which will remain unaffected
  • Organised team sports will also be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. However, from Monday, this limit will be enforceable in law.

The full list of exceptions to the 6 person limit is available on the government website.

 From Friday 18 September:

  • It will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system in place to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and retain this for 21 days.
  • Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced.

To view the full list of measures announced, visit the government’s website, here.

“Our plan to rebuild”: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy – New Chapter

In May, the UK Government published the ‘Our plan to rebuild’ strategy document which set out a roadmap to move away from lockdown and restart the economy, whilst keeping people safe from the risk of Coronavirus. Since Wednesday 13th May, the government has announced three steps to reopening the economy and on 17 July, the  Prime Minister announced the next chapter in the plan to rebuild the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

On 31 July, the Prime Minister announced that the easing of lockdown was paused for two weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases. On the 13 August, Government announced this stage of reopening will resume from Saturday 15 August in England – except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place including Greater Manchester. Stricter enforcement measures have also been put in place to address the most serious breaches of social distancing. These include:

  • Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings in mandatory settings to increase up to a maximum of £3,200 
  • New fines to be introduced for people hosting raves or facilitating/organising other illegal gatherings of over 30 people

For further details on the reopening of businesses and venues from 15 August, as well as which businesses must remain closed, please see here

From 15 August (These do not apply to Greater Manchester): 

This list of businesses below which can reopen in England is for reference only, as it may be relevant to your clients or suppliers. However, if you are in Greater Manchester, and own a business in the below list, as of 15 August you must stay closed.  

Entertainment, leisure, and cultural facilities

  • Most remaining leisure settings such as indoor play areas, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, will be allowed to reopen following safety guidelines. However, this will not include particularly high-risk activities and settings such as nightclubs.
  • Indoor performances to a live audience can restart (but with a limited distanced audience indoors), following COVID-19 secure guidelines.
  • A number of pilots will now take place in venues with a range of sizes of audience, including sports stadiums and business events. The pilots, which will be closely monitored and evaluated will inform future decisions on any further relaxation of the rules aiming for a full, socially distanced return in the autumn.
  • Wedding receptions; sit-down meals for a maximum of 30 people will now be permitted to resume, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

Close contact services

  • All close contact services can resume, including any treatments on the face (e.g. eyebrow threading, make-up application and others) which were classed as high-risk. Businesses in the sector are required to follow government guidance on operating safely. Practitioners must now wear a visor and mask, whereas customers must now wear face coverings.

Which businesses are to remain closed beyond August 15? 

  • “Close proximity” establishments including nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques will have to remain closed for the time being. A list of businesses which are required to remain closed has been released by the government and is available here.

Face coverings 

  • Face coverings have been required whilst on public transport since June 15, additionally, from July 24 they are required in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and enclosed transport hubs such as stations. If one of these locations has a café or area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. Face coverings must also be worn in banks, building societies and post offices. From August 8, face coverings are required in museums, cinemas, galleries and places of worship.
  • Face coverings are also required from 15 August in these settings: casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, exhibition halls and conference centres.
  • From September 1, schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing is not possible. The World Health Organisation stated on 21 August that children aged 12 and over are advised to wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults. For more information on use of face coverings for Year 7 and above, please see here.
  • In areas with local restrictions and local lockdowns, face coverings are compulsory for Year 7s and above. Face coverings should be worn by both adults and pupils when in communal areas.
  • Those who do not have to wear a covering include children under 11, as well as people with disabilities or health conditions. For all details on face coverings please see here.


From 1 August

Returning to work

  • Businesses will be provided with more discretion on how they ensure their staff can work safely.
  • Working from home will remain an option, but employers can also make their workplaces COVID-19 secure following safety guidelines published.
  • Employers should discuss working arrangements with staff to determine the best way that roles can be carried out safely.
  • Businesses should consider their employees' use of public transport, childcare responsibilities, protected characteristics, and other individual circumstances to drive socially responsible decisions. 

In September: 

  • Schools, nurseries and colleges will restart for all children and young people on a full-time basis.
  • Universities are working to reopen as fully as possible.

From 1 October:

  • If prevalence remains around or below current levels into the autumn, the government is planning on bringing back audiences in stadiums, and allowing conferences and other business events to recommence following COVID-19 safety guidelines.


Steps to reopen the economy  

Step three

Face coverings

On 14 July, the government announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July. In addition, from 24 July, face coverings will also have to be worn in shopping centres and enclosed transport hubs (indoor train stations and terminals, airports, maritime ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals). Wearing a face covering will also be compulsory when buying food and drink to takeaway from cafes, restaurants and shops. 

Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). Businesses are expected to encourage the use of face coverings and can refuse entry to non-compliant individuals. 

Latest list of businesses allowed to reopen following announcements on 9 July

Returning to work 

  • From 11 July, outdoor pools (outdoor waterparks, outdoor hot tubs and others) can reopen to the public whereas from 25 July indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres will also be allowed to reopen. The government has released guidance to support these establishments to reopen safely.
  • Close contact services which have remained closed up until now including tattoo studios, nail bars, massage parlours and spas will be allowed to reopen for some services from 13 July. Services involving work in the highest risk zone (treatments provided on the face) should not be made available to clients until government advice changes. Businesses reopening should follow government guidance published for close contact services.
  • From 11 July, recreational team sports will be permitted to begin returning outdoors. The government has released new guidance to enable providers of grassroots sport to repen safely.
  • From 11 July, the government also announced theatres, operas, dance and music shows can start putting on outdoor performances to socially distanced audiences. To support individuals working in performing arts, including arts organisations and venue operators to safely reopen, the government has released new guidance which can be accessed here.

From Saturday 4th July

Returning to work

  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to reopen. New laws will simplify and reduce the costs of the licensing process for outdoor seating and stalls, making it easier for people to safely drink and dine outside. However, hospitality indoors will be limited to table service and businesses will be asked to help the NHS Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of their customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for the business. To help you safely reopen your hospitality business, we have developed a quick guide with key sector specific considerations.
  • Hairdressers and barbershops will also be allowed to reopen with appropriate precautions in place. Guidance to support businesses offering these services reopen safely have been published here

  • Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites and other accommodation will be able to reopen following specific sector government guidance on safely reopening. Key steps to help you safely reopen can also be seen through our latest hospitality guide.

  • Leisure facilities and tourist attractions including outdoor gyms, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades will reopen if they can operate in a COVID-secure way. This will also apply to libraries, social clubs and community centres. Guidance has been published to support those managing community centres, village halls and other community facilities on safely reopening.

  • Places of worship are also expected to resume services including weddings with a maximum of 30 people as long as social distancing is adhered to. The government has published guidance for the safe use of places of worship as well as guidance for small weddings and civil partnerships.  

  • Courts, probation services, police stations and other public services will also increasingly resume face-to-face proceedings.

  • In England, car driving lessons and theory tests will also be allowed to commence from Saturday 4th July, whereas driving tests can restart from Wednesday 22nd July. Full guidance including details of the restarting dates for the different types of vehicles can be seen here. Guidance for driving instructors and motorcycle trainers, including working safely and timescales has also been published on the government website. 

  • From 4 July 2020, all specialist vehicle approval tests will restart. Individual vehicle approval (IVA) tests will continue to be booked under a priority system. For more information on arranging a test, see here

  • From 4 July, dual and training flights, and the reopening of General Aviation businesses, will be permitted in England. Guidance to help sector businesses to prepare to reopen safely has been published here.

  • Guidance will also be published to enable choirs, orchestras and theatres to resume live performances as soon as possible.

A full list of the businesses and establishments allowed to reopen from the 4th July can be seen here

The government has also released guidance on how to work safely for people working in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, business events, consumer shows and close contact services (e.g. hairdressers) as well as updated guidance on restaurant, pubs and bars.

For a range of tools and resources to help you become COVID-secure,
visit our dedicated "Safely reopening our workplaces" page.

Social Contact

  • Two households of any size will be allowed to meet in any setting provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines. This means that two households can stay together overnight in self-contained accommodation including hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

  • The government has also re-examined the two metre social distancing rule and advised that where it is not possible to keep two metres apart, people should keep a social distance of “one metre plus”.

  • The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding and has also published an easy-to-read guide. Updated guidance on shielding has also been released for young people. From 6 July, people who were previously shielding may meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from different households, while maintaining strict social distancing. They no longer need to observe social distancing with other members of their own household:

    • From 1 August the government will be advising that shielding will be paused. From this date, the government is advising to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means they may wish to go out to more places and see more people but they should take particular care to minimise contact with others.
    • From 1 August: people who are shielding can go to work, if they cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-safe

Full guidance on meeting people from outside you household is available here.


Guidance for departures - The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against non-essential international travel, except to the countries and territories listed on this page.

Guidance for arrivals - From Friday 10 July, individuals travelling or returning to England from one of the countries with travel corridor excemption will no longer be required to self-isolate. Contact information will still be required on arrival. If a journey involves a transit stop in a country not on the list, individuals may need to self-isolate on their return to England. More information on transit stops can be seen here.

More information on which travellers are excempt from border rules in England can be seen on the government page



  • Primary and secondary education is expected to recommence in September with full attendance. On 2 July the government published guidance on the full opening of schools from September 2020. 


Previous measures announced:

Step two - From Monday 1 June

Returning to work 

  • 1 June, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 working safely guidelines. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor spaces.

  • 15 June, all other non-essential retail can open including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets. Businesses can open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment. 

    You can find a Risk-Assessment guide and template from Centre for Assessment here. 

  • On June 10, the government also announced that following social distancing, zoos, drive-in cinemas and safari parks will also be permitted to reopen on Monday 15 June.

  • Sport facilities are allowed to open from end of May. Each venue, including council-owned sports facilities, will make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated safely. Find more details here

  • From Saturday 13 June places of worship will also be permitted to open for individual prayer in line with social distancing guidelines. Guidance for the safe use of these can be seen here

  • As of 13 May 2020, as you are able to spend unlimited time outdoors as long as social distancing is still practised, you can also leave your home to search for archaeological finds. The government has published guidance for members of the public (including metal-detectorists) searching for archaeological finds in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Social contact

  •  During the Coronavirus Press Conference on the 10th June, the Prime Minister announced that from June 13, people living on their own as well as single parents with dependent children would be able to form a "support bubble" with one other household. Individuals in a "support bubble" will be able to visit each others' homes and will not have to remain 2m apart. More details can be seen here



  • 1 June, Schools, colleges and nurseries in England are set to open. Primary schools will open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Nurseries and other early years providers will open for children of all ages.

  • June 15, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also provide face-to-face contact for Year 10, Year 12 and equivalent 16-19 further education students to help them prepare for exams next year. For more information on schools opening see here.  

Public Transport and International Travel 

The UK Government has released guidance for all methods of transport. You should avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive. 

If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and coronavirus essential international travel guidance before travelling. From 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus. The rules are for residents and visitors. When these rules are in place, you will:

  • need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
  • not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations

Some travellers are exempt from UK border rules, check the list here


Step one - From Wednesday 13 May

Returning to work

Whilst the guidance for employers is to continue to support remote working wherever possible, those businesses that require staff to attend the workplace are encouraged to do so.

All workplaces are expected to continue observing the social distancing guidance.

The list includes:

• Essential retailers including supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations etc. 
• Construction and manufacturing
• Laboratories and research facilities
• Restaurants and cafes with a takeaway or delivery service
• Tradespeople, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
• Those facilitating trade or transport of goods

Hospitality, restaurants, pubs and bars with no delivery service, and gyms are not expected to reopen until July at the earliest.

The government has also released the “COVID-19 Secure” guidance which details how workplaces can operate safely as the rules of lockdown begin to ease. More information on the new guidance can be found here


Schools and nurseries will not open during this phase.

Face coverings

From 15 June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England. Exemptions include children under the age of 11, anyone with a disability or condition which means they are unable to wear one, transport staff and emergency services.

To note, face coverings are not the same as face masks. It is important that people do not use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. Last month, the government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home.

Public transport

Individuals are asked to avoid using public transport unless the journey is necessary, reserving space on public transport for essential travel only.

Overseas visitors

All arrivals to the UK, including British nationals, from 13 May will be required to self-isolate in their accommodation for a period of 14 days.




More information is available on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Support website. For more personalised advice call us on: 0161 237 4128 or email us at:

The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.


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