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London will move into Tier 3 from midnight on Wednesday, 16 December, health secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) has confirmed.

Parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will also enter England’s highest tier.

The change in tier is due to a sharp rise in cases across parts of the South East and East of England, meaning that the health secretary says he was unable to wait until the next scheduled review of England’s tier system.

This means that event venues within the Greater London Area, as well as in parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, will not be permitted to host sports events or live performances unless the events are drive-in.

Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill said the news was a huge blow for the night time economy businesses across London and called on Government for a stronger compensation package: “Given that only 20% of businesses within the sector are currently open, we once again are angered by the disproportionate restrictions levied against the sector, given the rise in cases within education and other areas which have remained open, policy decisions which are affecting people’s lives.”

Tier 1 (Medium) areas sees business meetings and events permitted at a cap of 50% of the venue’s capacity or 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors, whichever is lowest. This capacity refers to the total number of people per event and does not include venue staff. Similar rules apply in Tier 2 (High) areas, with the key difference being a reduction to 2,000 people permitted in outdoor settings.

The Events Industry Forum has published an update to the Covid-19 outdoor events guidance, produced in association with DCMS.

Events are not permitted in Tier 3 (Very High) areas unless they are drive-ins. However, while smaller business meetings are advised against, they may take place with up to a total of 30 people if reasonably necessary, such as for the purposes of work that cannot be done at home. In such cases, social distancing must be maintained, and the venue must be able to demonstrate it has followed the Meetings Industry Association’s Covid-19 guidance, which can be read here.

Unconfirmed reports suggest this latest change will be reviewed on 23 December.

The Government announced the tier system as part of its Winter Plan on 23 November. It later clarified that venues in Tier 2 can sell alcohol without the need for it to be accompanied by a ‘substantial meal’.