Last updated: 23 October 2020

From Wednesday 14 October, Wirral is placed into the ‘very high’ alert level of the Government’s new three-tier system of interventions to tackle the spread of COVID-19, along with other areas across the Liverpool City Region.

This means the borough is under the strictest set of restrictions due to the high rate of infection in the area.

We have included a short summary of the new measures below, but full details of restrictions, and what they mean for residents and business owners are explained on the Government's website.

What are the new measures?

From 00.01 on Wednesday 14 October, the following regulations are in place in Wirral and the wider Liverpool City Region:

  • pubs and bars will close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
  • betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will close
  • wedding receptions will not be permitted
  • people should try to avoid travelling outside their local area, or entering another area rated Very High other than for work, education, accessing youth services, or to meet caring responsibilities
  • people should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in the Liverpool City Region and avoid staying overnight in the Liverpool City Region if they are resident elsewhere
  • you must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble. This includes private homes and indoors in hospitality venues, such as pubs. You must also not meet with people outside of your household or support bubble in a private garden or in most outdoor public venues

In the affected local areas, including Wirral and the wider Liverpool City Region, it is also advised that people should:

  • not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances.
  • only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.
  • only take holidays within your household group or support bubble.
  • avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators

The new measures will be kept under constant review to reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

What areas does it cover?

The Local COVID Alert Level of ‘Very High’ applies to the whole Liverpool City Region: Wirral, St Helens, Knowsley, Halton, Warrington, Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral.

Wirral has been part of the Liverpool City Region since 2014.

How long will these restrictions last?

These regulations will be monitored closely and reviewed regularly. Government has announced that most of the national measures will be in place until March 2021.

When is it ok to meet other people?

You should only meet with other people if:

  • all the people in the gathering are members of the same or linked households
  • the gathering is a permitted organised gathering i.e. takes place at premises other than a private dwelling or in a public outdoor place, which are operated by a business, institution or public body, and if you participate in the gathering alone or as a member of a qualifying group. For the purposes of indoor gatherings, a qualifying group is one which consists only of persons who are members of the same or linked households
  • for the purposes of outdoor gatherings, a qualifying group is one which consists of no more than 6 people or are members of the same or linked households. Whilst participating in the gathering, you must not become a member of, or mingle with any other qualifying group.
  • the gathering is necessary for work, education, training and childcare or emergency assistance
  • to fulfil a legal obligation or participate in legal proceedings
  • the gathering takes place in criminal justice accommodation
  • support groups of no more than 15 persons taking place at premises other than a private dwelling.
  • to attend a birth
  • to attend marriage ceremony or civil partnership etc (no more than 15 people)
  • to attend a funeral (no more than 30 people)
  • to attend a commemorative event following a person’s death (no more than 15 persons)
  • to attend a gathering for the purpose of protest organised by a business or public or political body
  • you are an elite sportsperson or coach, and the gathering is necessary for training or competition
  • to attend other sports (outdoor and permitted indoor)
  • you are visiting a dying person who is a member of your household, a close family member or friend
  • you are visiting a person receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home or if you’re accompanying them to a medical appointment and is a member of your household, a close family member or friend
  • the gathering is reasonably necessary for the purposes of informal childcare (provided by a linked childcare household)
  • the gathering is a relevant outdoor activity being a physical activity carried out outdoors and for which a licence, permit or certificate issued by a public body to carry on the activity must be held

Businesses and venues

Which businesses must close?

A pub, bar or other business which sells alcohol for consumption on the premises must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant - which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.

In addition, the following businesses must also close:

  • nightclubs
  • dance halls
  • discotheques
  • sexual entertainment venues
  • hostess bars
  • casinos
  • betting shops and adult gaming centres
  • indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios (will reopen from 24 October)
  • indoor sports facilities (will reopen from 24 October)
  • soft play centres and areas (closed from 24 October)

However, this does not prevent the use of:

  • any premises used for a restricted business or service to host blood donation sessions
  • any other specified retail activity

The following businesses must close between the hours of 10pm to 5am.

  • restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • businesses providing food or drink prepared on the premises for immediate consumption off the premises, but not including: supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents, pharmacists and chemists, or petrol stations
  • cafes, including workplace canteens, but not including— cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school, canteens at criminal justice accommodation or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence, or services providing food or drink to the homeless
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • public houses
  • social clubs

This also applies to bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres, amusement arcades, funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities, bingo halls, and concert halls.

Businesses may continue during the restricted hours:

  • for the delivery of takeaway food and drink if ordered over the phone or online. Collection of takeaway food or drink is permitted if the customer remains in their vehicle or does not enter the premises
  • if the business is a motorway service area and no alcohol is sold in the restricted hours
  • if the business is operated in the restricted area of an airport or port
  • if the business is operated as a workplace canteen

If the restricted business or service is provided at a cinema, theatre or concert hall, they may continue after 10pm for the purpose of concluding a performance which began before that time.

Food and drink on licenced premises must be ordered and consumed whilst the customer is seated.

Businesses which provide food and drink where no alcohol is served for consumption on the premises must take all reasonable steps to ensure it is consumed whilst the customer is seated. If the business is a cinema, theatre or concert hall, the food or drink does not need to be ordered while seated, but they must take reasonable steps to ensure it is consumed whilst seated.

Businesses must continue to take details of customers for NHS Test and Trace.

Can I have someone in my house (or go into someone’s house) to do repairs or other work?

Official or registered tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work purposes as long as you follow national guidance on how to work safely there.

Can I move home?

Yes.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.

Once you are in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.

Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.

You should not have multiple bubbles.

Do these measures affect access to education?

No. Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a COVID-secure way. University students must follow the specific guidance and rules set by their university.

Where do I find information on infection rates?

You can find information on the Wirral Intelligence Service website

What do I do if I see someone breaking the rules?

If an individual is breaching restrictions, you can report it to Merseyside Police. To do so, where possible, people are asked to use the reporting tool on the force’s website www.merseyside.police.uk. Alternatively, you can call 101. The police will assess the circumstances to determine the appropriate action.

If you have concerns that a business or venue is not following the guidance, you can report it to the council.

Once the legislation is in place, the police or the local authority will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £100 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.

Fines will be:

  • £100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days
  • £200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200

Working from home

To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter.

Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.

Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if Covid-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Childcare

Do these measures affect childcare?

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

People looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, can continue to do so when it is necessary for caring purposes and is a regular arrangement. This covers formal and informal arrangements for childcare - but not playdates or parties.

Does my child need to wear a face covering at school?

Unless exempt, in education settings where students in Year 7 and above are educated, including middle schools, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and students when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

Parents must wear a face covering when dropping off and picking up children at school, and socially distance from others.

Can my family, friends and guardians assist with childcare?

People looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, can continue to do so when it is necessary for caring purposes and is a regular arrangement. This covers formal and informal arrangements for childcare - but not playdates or parties.

The only other people who should help you with childcare in your home are people you live with, people in your support bubble, or registered childcare providers including nannies.

Outside of these measures, friends or family who do not live with you must not visit your home to help with childcare.

Can my child stay in both households of parents who are separate?

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

Can a family member who is not in my bubble collect my child from school?

We advise that you should not meet with people you do not live with. However, people looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults, can continue to do so when it is necessary for caring purposes. This covers formal and informal arrangements for childcare - but not playdates or parties.

If you are walking outside, try to maintain social distance and everyone must wash their hands for 20 seconds afterwards. If you are car sharing, please follow our car sharing advice in the Travel section.

If you are travelling on public transport, wear a face covering, maintain a 2m distance where possible, and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.

Transport and Travel

Can I travel outside the area for work or school?

Yes, people living inside and outside of these areas can continue to travel for work or school. Workplaces and schools themselves should also be implementing covid-secure measures.

Can I go to someone’s house in an area not subject to the restrictions?

You should not visit anyone’s home inside or outside of the restricted area (except for your support bubble).

What about public transport?

Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work. Examples of essential travel include: travelling to work, getting essential food or medical supplies, supporting someone who is vulnerable, travelling to and from the homes of others in your support bubble, fulfilling legal obligations, going to an early years or educational setting, or travelling to medical care to avoid illness, injury or harm.

Buses, trains and the Mersey Ferries are still running and have key measures in place including enhanced cleaning regimes. It is important to follow key advice about how to travel safely including wearing face coverings.

Face coverings must be worn on board all public transport and at rail and bus stations, Mersey Ferries terminals and in Merseytravel Travel Centres unless you are exempt. Guidance around face covering exemptions can be found on Gov.uk.

Please walk or cycle wherever you can, especially for shorter journeys.

For the latest transport information and advice visit the 'Rethink Travel' campaign www.merseytravel.gov.uk or visit @merseytravel on Twitter.

What about car sharing?

You are advised not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble, and to use public transport for essential journeys instead.

Please note that private hire taxis and hackney cabs are not classed as public transport but a face covering is still required.

Can I still go on holiday?

The government are advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area. This is part of wider measures to help manage the risk of transmission.

You can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, to access youth services or because of caring responsibilities.

You may also do so where necessary as part of a longer journey – such as when a journey between lower risk areas passes through a very high alert level area, or when going to an airport, port or international rail terminal to travel abroad.

If you are travelling, you must only do so with members of your household or support bubble, and should follow the safer travel guidance.

Remember, you must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

If you are a resident in a very high alert level area, avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, except if you need to for work, education or caring responsibilities. This means you should not leave the very high alert level area to stay in a second home, if you own one. You must not stay with anyone you do not live with elsewhere in the UK or visit their home.

Anyone who lives elsewhere should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area where possible, except for those who need to for work, education or caring responsibilities. You must not stay with anyone you do not live with from a very high alert level area or visit their home.

If you are resident in a very high alert level area, you may travel to hotels and other guest accommodation within that area but you should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.

When considering travelling internationally, you should look at the rules in place at your destination, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and the current travel corridor list.

Hospitality

Can I still go to a hospitality venue, like a pub or restaurant, with family and friends there who don’t live with me?

No. The new regulations state that you must not meet or socialise with people who you do not live with (unless they are part of your support bubble) in any  indoor setting, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas.

As of Thursday 24 September, hospitality customers need to wear a face covering when not sat at a table for food or drink, and staff must wear one at all times.

Can I meet up outdoors with family and friends who don't live with me?

You are advised against meeting or socialising with anyone outside of your household or support bubble in any outdoor setting. For example, this includes parks, beer gardens and outdoor eating areas.

Why can I visit the pub but not my relative’s house?

This is because the hospitality industry has enhanced measures, such as risk assessments and test and trace, which private homes don’t have.

Please remember, as of Saturday 3 October it is against the law to visit a hospitality venue with someone you do not live with and who is not in your support bubble.

Can I buy food or drink from takeaways from 10pm to 5am?

No. However, takeaways can deliver to your home if you place an order by phone or online.

Are rules changing for other businesses?

Businesses must display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. For more information on the App visit: www.covid19.nhs.uk

In addition, guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services is now law. Businesses and organisations now face stricter rules to make their premises COVID-19 Secure. These are:

  • a wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the Covid-19 secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches
  • employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work
  • businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated

Weddings

Can my wedding go ahead?

Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies are restricted to 15 people and must only take place in COVID-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces.

Wedding receptions are not permitted from 00.01 on Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6, but social distancing should still be followed between people not in the same household or support bubble.  See detailed guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships on Gov.uk

Can people living outside Merseyside come to my wedding?

People living outside of Merseyside can travel to these areas to attend a wedding, civil partnership ceremony or funeral, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or garden.

Funerals

How many people can attend a funeral?

A maximum of 30 people should attend a funeral. Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.

Can we host a wake at my house or garden?

You cannot host a wake for anyone outside your own household or support bubble in your home or garden.

Can we have a wake in a public venue?

Gatherings in a hospitality setting are limited to 6 people - BUT you need to maintain social distance with people who do not live in your household or support bubble, continue with good hand hygiene and wear a face covering where appropriate. If this is not possible you should only visit the venue with members of your own household or support bubble. People are advised to only visit COVID-safe premises that are visibly adhering to the guidelines.

Sports

What are the changes to playing sports?

Unless formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation, with guidance issued by a sports governing body, team sports should not take place at an indoor or outdoor venue with people who you don’t live with.

You should not be a spectator at any amateur or semi-professional sports events.

Spectating of junior sporting activity (aged 17 years and younger) outside is permitted but should be restricted to a maximum of 1 adult per participating child. Siblings are allowed to spectate if necessary due to reasons such as childcare. All spectators must keep a safe distance from others.

Our recommendation is that for anyone aged 17 years and younger, a parent or guardian is on site at all times however for children under the age of 8 years our recommendation is that a parent or guardian is readily accessible (e.g. within designated spectating areas).

If you need to attend, you must remain socially distanced and in groups of no more than six.

Can I travel to play sport outside of the areas with restrictions?

Yes. Please wear a face covering if using public transport unless exempt.

Can I go to the gym, gym class or a swimming pool?

No.

Vulnerable People

What about people who were previously shielding?

People with health conditions and those who were asked to shield are still particularly vulnerable and need to take special care during this worrying period and to be extra cautious and follow the new guidance.

Support groups

From Thursday 24 September, support groups such as therapy groups (not to be confused with a support bubble) are limited to a maximum of 15 people.

Support for people on low incomes who are self-isolating from 28 September 2020

From Monday 28 September, people with Covid-19 symptoms will be required to self-isolate by law. To help those who on low incomes who are unable to work from home, the government has announced it will be providing the £500 ‘Test and Trace Support’ payment.

What support is available for medically vulnerable residents?

We continue to support our most vulnerable residents, who can’t call on others for support. Residents can call Wirral’s Coronavirus helpline on 0151 666 5050, 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

There is a range of advice and signposting to additional help and support also available online at www.wirralinfobank.co.uk

Can I go to a care home?

Wirral’s care homes are closed to non-essential visitors, excluding health care professionals and those involved in end of life care (including family members).

If you are planning to visit relatives in care homes outside of Wirral, check with the care home prior to travelling to ensure that they are still open to visits from family members.

Places of Worship

Do the restrictions apply to places of worship?

You may attend a mosque, church, synagogue, temple or other place or worship, but you should socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings).

If possible, prayer or religious services should take place outdoors.