Nottinghamshire to ban some alcohol sales after 9pm under tier 3 Covid rules

Josh Halliday and Helen Pidd
·8 min read
<span>Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA</span>
Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Nottinghamshire will be placed under tier 3 coronavirus measures from Friday, it was confirmed on Wednesday night, with a series of extra rules including England’s first virus-related ban on off-licence alcohol sales after 9pm.

West Yorkshire is set to follow suit within days – meaning more than 11 million people in England will soon be under the toughest level of restrictions.

Ministers have told leaders in both regions they want to impose the strictest lockdown rules due to growing concern over hospital admissions and rising cases in the over-60s.

In Nottinghamshire, on top of the off-licence restriction, pubs, bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, nail bars and tattoo parlours will have to close from Friday. Hairdressers and gyms will stay open.

The alcohol restriction was proposed by local police, keen to stop street disorder and Covid spreading at house parties, according to one person involved in negotiations.

The government said alcohol can continue to be purchased in hospitality venues when accompanying a substantial meal, up until 10pm.

Jason Zadrozny, the leader of Ashfield district council, said the closure of “personal care” establishments – excluding hairdressers and barber shops – had been on the insistence of Public Health England and meant the county was “effectively in tier 3 plus”.

No other tier 3 areas – which include Greater Manchester and the Liverpool and Sheffield city regions – include off-licence restrictions, suggesting the tiering system is not a one-size-fits-all model.

In Nottinghamshire, infection rates are among the highest in the country and continue to rise rapidly. The weekly case rate stands at 364 people per 100,000 in Nottinghamshire county, and is 239 per 100,000 in those over 60, rising to 772 per 100,000 in those aged 17 to 21 years old.

In Nottingham city the current weekly case rate per 100,000 rises to 493 per 100,000, with 918 per 100,000 aged between 17 to 21. As of 20 October, there were 194 confirmed Covid-19 cases at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, with 11 mechanical ventilation beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients.

Though a deal has not yet been struck with government, West Yorkshire is expected to follow Nottinghamshire into tier 3 within days. That means 11.1 million people – one in five of England’s population – will be subject to the strictest lockdown curbs in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Warrington and the Liverpool and Sheffield city regions.

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In a statement on Wednesday night, West Yorkshire’s leaders said discussions were ongoing to “discuss steps for controlling the rising Covid-19 infection rates across the region and a package of measures to support the West Yorkshire economy should it be necessary to move into tier 3 (very high) restrictions”.

But they insisted a deal had not yet been agreed and that talks would continue on Thursday.

Susan Hinchcliffe, the leader of Bradford Council, said discussions about West Yorkshire were ongoing but it appeared the government was “unflinching in their resolve” to place the region into tier 3.

She said it was unclear what support would be offered to businesses in the event of a move to the higher tier but the government had told council leaders it would be a “template package” with no room for negotiation – although ministers had promised to clarify the support package in a further meeting.

Another senior regional figure said “it’s a question of when rather than if” tier 3 was imposed on West Yorkshire. It is understood that leaders are considering a “vanilla tier 3”, meaning pubs and bars not serving meals would close but everything else would stay open.

Zulfi Karim, the president of Council for Mosques, Bradford, who also sits on the Bradford outbreak control board, said discussions were ongoing and that there was a gold command meeting in Bradford at 4pm on Wednesday.

“As people of Bradford we think it should happen. I think we should go for lockdown quickly. I’ve been calling for that for a week now,” he said, complaining that “political shenanigans” seemed to be slowing the process. Bradford Royal Infirmary was “under a lot of pressure,” he added.

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Nottinghamshire is expected to receive £8 a head for test and trace and a further £20 a head for business support, the same as in other tier 3 areas, which equates to about £32m in total for the region.

Conservative MPs including Ben Bradley and Brendan Clarke-Smith, who represent seats in north Nottinghamshire, had been calling for their areas to be kept out of any tier 3 restrictions, but on Tuesday they conceded it was inevitable.

In a Facebook video, Bradley said the rising infection rate in the north of the country “makes it increasingly difficult for us as MPs to argue that it’s different, that we’re not in the same boat” as Nottingham, where university students have accounted for a high proportion of cases in the past month.

In Bassetlaw, north Nottinghamshire, the infection rate almost doubled, to 311.6 cases per 100,000 people, in the week to 24 October compared with the previous seven days.

Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, said the health minister Helen Whately had hinted that West Yorkshire may be able to avoid the highest level of restrictions if local authorities were given enhanced support for test and trace and enforcement, an idea proposed by local leaders.

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.

  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.

  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.

  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.

  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.

  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.

  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.

  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.

  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.

  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.

Sheerman said: “I think within a week or two it will be clear that we’ve got a national emergency and it needs a national policy. What worries me about this whole process is that the data shows that the whack-a-mole strategy focusing on particular regions and local authorities is obviously not working.

“The message loud and clear from Helen Whately was that perhaps there was an opportunity to stay in the second tier but with a bit of special help.”