WILTSHIRE, Hampshire and Dorset will be in tier 2 as of next week, and will therefore face tougher restrictions as we exit the second national lockdown.

Here's everything you need to know.

What is tier 2?

Tier 2 is otherwise known as 'High Alert'. With this allocation, a series of toucher restrictions will be in force compared to what we experienced previously under the tier system, in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 locally. The tier 2 measures will come into force from Wednesday, December 2.

Why are we in tier 2?

The government says the decision of which area goes into which tier has been based on case detection rates in all age groups, case detection rates in the 'over 60s', the rate at which cases are rising or falling, positivity rate and pressure on the NHS.

In a rationale published by the government, it states that Wiltshire and Swindon have been allocated tier 2 as "case rates continue to fall in Swindon but are increasing in Wiltshire".

It added: "Overall case rates are 143/100,000 and 93/100,000 in the over 60s. Positivity is 6.2 per cent. Swindon and Wiltshire STP are reporting increasing admissions to hospital."

What are the tier 2 restrictions?

Here are the measures that will be in force under tier 2:

  • People must not socialise with anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble, whether at home or in a public place.
  • People must also not socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or public space.
  • Businesses and venues can remain open in a Covid-secure manner, other than those which are closed by law.
  • Pubs and bars must be closed, unless they are operating as restaurants.
  • Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
  • Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to provide table service only. In premises which sell alcohol, they need to close between 11pm and 5am, and stop taking orders after 10pm.
  • Education settings remain open.
  • Council services such as leisure centres and libraries will be able to open their doors again.
  • 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.
  • Outdoor street markets will be able to sell full range of items, not just food.
  • Places of worship remain open, but people must not attend or socialise in groups of more than six people while there, unless there's a legal exemption.

Can hair and beauty businesses reopen?

Under the strict new tier system, all hairdressers and 'personal care' businesses will be allowed to reopen from December 2. 

Hairdressers and salons were closed as part of the national lockdown, so it will be a relief to all those who work in the beauty sector that they will be able to welcome customers again from next week, permitting the sites are Covid-secure.

How is travel affected?

Under tier 2 rectrictions, residents can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys made where possible.

When you travel to a tier 1 area, you must follow tier 2 rules, and avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas.

Necessary reasons to travel to a tier 3 zone include work, education, youth services, medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.

You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey.

Regarding international travel, the travel corridors list and advice still applies under the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

For more: Here's what the rules are if you want to travel outside of Tier 2

What about Christmas?

You will be allowed to form 'Christmas bubbles' with up to two other households.

These rules will be in place between December 23 and 27 so some families can be together for the festive period.

How are other areas and counties affected?

Only Isle of Wight, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly will be in tier 1.

In the south west region, South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor, Bath and North East Somerset, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Gloucestershire and Devon will be in tier 2.

Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset will be entering the tier 3 'Very High Alert' category.

What happens next?

The tiers will be regularaly reviewed, with the first review scheduled for Wednesday, December 16.

This means there are two weeks to reduce infections and local authorities can make a case for being moved down to tier 1 measures.