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Royal Borough faces Tier 2 COVID restrictions

Royal Borough COVID-19 contact tracing system to be launched

The Government has announced that the Royal Borough will be in Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions when lockdown ends next week.

This means that pubs can remain open - if they serve substantial meals - and sports teams like Maidenhead United can allow fans to attend games with restricted numbers. 

People will also be allowed to get their haircut, with hairdressing allowed under the tier rules. 

But residents cannot socialise with anyone outside of their household or bubble in any indoor setting. 

Tier 2 restrictions - known as 'High Alert' - require people and businesses in Windsor and Maidenhead to follow these guidelines: 

  • You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of 6’. 
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs. 
  • Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
  • Personal care, such as hairdressing, is allowed. 
  • Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to: provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol, close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt), stop taking orders after 10pm. 
  • Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. 
  • Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm. 
  • Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.
  • Attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.
  • Places of worship remain open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes.
  • Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue.
  • Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with).
  • There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
  • You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.
  • You must continue to follow Tier 2 rules when you travel to a Tier 1 area.
  • Avoid travel to or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.
  • You can travel through a Tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey.

Nearby Buckinghamshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council are also in Tier 2, but Slough Borough Council has been placed in Tier 3 - the highest level of restrictions. 

The tier system will be reviewed on Wednesday, December 16.

Final decisions will be made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will lead a Downing Street news conference later today. 

Lisa Byrne, landlady at The Jolly Gardeners pub in Old Windsor, said she was ‘devastated’ when watching the news unfold. 

Having not yet received any grant money and only being able to furlough one member of staff, Lisa says she is reluctantly going to ‘give it a go’ when she is allowed to open her doors again.

While she normally serves Thai food on certain evenings, she is confused as to when and how she reopens – with guidelines requiring her to serve substantial meals when trading with alcohol.

“It does not make any sense having restaurants full of people eating, but you can’t have a pub with people drinking,” Lisa said.

“You are not going to not catch COVID because you have got a sandwich in front of you.”

She added that pubs have taken the biggest hit when it comes to restrictions.

“We are just bearing the brunt of everything else,” Lisa said.

“We seem to be the only places sticking to test and trace, but you can go into a supermarket and be with other people.

“The last month has been so hard not having any income.”

The debate over ‘substantial meals’ has also sparked confusion and concern, with ‘wet-led’ pubs like The Jolly Gardeners being more centred on drinks.

“You can’t just serve a pasty, it has to be served with some chips or a side salad,” Lisa said.

“It has to be something you would order at a restaurant.”

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that 'we must protect our NHS this winter', and that restrictions were 'necessary given the scale of the threat that we face'. 

He added that national measures have 'successfully turned the curve' and eased pressure on the health service. 

"We must make the right judgement guided by the science," Mr Hancock said. 

He added that 'the majority of the country will be in Tier 2'. 

Royal Borough leader Cllr Andrew Johnson urged residents to 'be sensible and take care', in a statement today. 

He added that the council will be awaiting details about how the process works to move back down to Tier 1, a level occupied by just three regions in the whole of England. 

"We are constantly reviewing the situation, taking expert advice from our dedicated public health professionals and liaising with Government. We await further details about how the process works to move back to Tier 1," Cllr Johnson said. 

“Please remember that we still have significant community transmission of the virus across the Royal Borough. There will be a temptation to get out and about again as normal, but please be sensible, take care and look after yourselves and loved ones. 

“Remember to wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering where appropriate and keep space between yourself and those not in your household.

"If you have symptoms please self-isolate and get a test. We have a number of resources to help our residents, so please get in touch if you need support.

"Please share this message and encourage your friends and family to do their bit. Help keep everyone safe. Follow the data, support local business and stop the spread."

Bucks Tory MP Greg Smith spoke to express his disappointment in the Commons that the county has been placed into the 'punitive' Tier 2.

He complained that there has been 'zero consultation' between central Government, Bucks Council, and the local NHS. 

Mr Smith urged Government to fully consult these parties as the tiers are reviewed, to which Mr Hancock replied that the director of public health for Bucks was 'invited to engage' as tier decisions were made. 

Bucks Council leader Cllr Martin Tett has reacted to the news. Expressing disappointment for not remaining in Tier 1 as was the case pre-lockdown, he acknowledged that the county needed to 'retain the advances made' during the pandemic. 

"The council will be working with its Members of Parliament, the Buckinghamshire NHS and local business organisations to understand the implications for our residents, our businesses and people's health. We will advise more in due course."

He added: "Can I thank everyone in Buckinghamshire for their continued support and for following the rules, not only over the last month in lockdown but since the pandemic started." 

Another Bucks MP, Conservative Joy Morrissey, who represents Burnham and Marlow in the Beaconsfield constituency, has also issued a statement in relation to today's news. 

She said: "If we all follow the new rules, act responsibly, and continue to enforce social distancing, then I am confident that we can move down into the lower Tier 1 when the alert levels are reviewed on December 16.

"I realise that this will be very disappointing for people and businesses across Beaconsfield, especially the hospitality sector. However, if we follow the rules closely we will be able to ease restrictions faster.

"There is still financial support you can claim from the Government and Buckinghamshire Council, such as the furlough scheme, Government-backed loans, and the Local Restrictions Support Grant which will award money to businesses who have been forced to close or have seen their revenue severely impacted by local restrictions.

"Constituents with any queries should consult www.gov.uk/coronavirus or contact my office.”

Earlier this week, some Royal Borough businesses reacted to the news ahead of the tier system being announced, with one community-owned pub in Maidenhead claiming it would not be viable to open in whichever tier it is placed.

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