Covid: What does England's tier system mean for Wales?

A man passes a festively decorated Hayes Island Snack Bar in Cardiff city centre

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image captionIn Wales people are still out and about shopping, but what is happening over the border?

It’s the run up to a Christmas like no other and we are all trying to figure out what we can and cannot do to get ready, while keeping others safe.

In Wales, while rules are in place, people can still go to the pub, meet others at a social distance and head out to buy presents.

But from 2 December, across the border in England, about 55 million people will be living under strict rules.

So what do England’s tiers mean for those living and working in Wales?

Next Wednesday as the lockdown ends in England, areas will be placed under tiers, from one to three, depending on how high their case rate is.

But while the rules do not apply in Wales, the changes over the border could affect your family, work or business over the coming days.

What are the rules in Wales?

Regardless of where you live in Wales, coronavirus restrictions have been the same since 9 November.

After the 17-day nationwide lockdown came to an end, the Welsh Government said there needed to be a set of consistent rules, and halted local lockdowns, which had seen people living under varying levels of restrictions.

This means there are no rules on travelling within Wales, but travel into England is banned.

The Welsh Government introduced a “restricted list of essential purposes” to allow people to travel between the nations, such as going to work or delivering care.

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But on Friday Mr Drakeford insisted there were no plans to introduce regionalised “tiered” restrictions, similar to those coming into force in England.

He added: “The advice we have is that a single set of arrangements for Wales works best, is easiest to communicate and delivers benefits in all parts of Wales.”

What is England’s tier system?

media captionLaura Foster explains the new three tier system for England

England’s new tier system comes into force when its lockdown ends next week, on Wednesday, 2 December, with Tier 3 being the highest level of restrictions.

Under Tier 3, people must not meet indoors or in most outdoor places with people they do not live with or who are not in their support bubble,.

Pubs and restaurants are closed except for takeaway and hotels and indoor entertainment venues must close.

Areas in the highest tier include most of the north east and West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands, and the south West.

What if my family live in England?

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image captionUp to three households can form an exclusive “bubble” to meet indoors during the Christmas period

With travel across the border banned apart for essential reasons, the changes in England do not in theory change who you can and cannot see.

If you live in Wales and have family and loved-ones in England, you can still visit them if they are in your support bubble, no matter what tier they are in.

But people are being urged not to take that trip unless they have to, with travel in or out of areas in the highest tier – tier three – advised against.

There are exceptions in all of England’s tiers for childcare and support bubbles.

If you do travel to visit your support bubble, once in England you will need to follow the rules that apply there.

What about Scotland?

Scotland has a five-level system that runs from 0 to four.

At Level 3 alcohol sales are not allowed and cafes and restaurants can only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and must close at 18:00.

What does it mean if I live or have a business on the border?

media caption“It seems very bizarre that we can end up in a situation more than once this year where we’ve got two totally separate sets of rules”

With parts of England heading into strict restrictions, you might be wondering what it will mean if you live close to the border of one of these areas.

Bristol and South Gloucestershire, in south West England, are in tier three, meanwhile Cheshire, on the border of Flintshire, is in tier two.

While the Severn Bridge is not closed people are being urged not to travel in or out of these areas, while pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, have been forced to close.

The tiers could pose a problem for businesses who rely on both Welsh and English custom and people who live and socialise over the border.

What about driving home for Christmas?

media captionAbby wants her family to be together at Christmas – but there are too many households

For those wanting to drive home to see family and friends to celebrate over the festive period, new rules are being introduced.

From 23 to 27 December people from across the UK will be able to meet.

But with numbers limited to three households, some larger families, and those who have relatives who have separated, this may lead to difficult choices when arranging the dinner table.

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