London moving into tier three: what does this mean?

From Wednesday 16 December 2020, London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will move into tier three, the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has identified a new variation of COVID-19 that may be associated with a faster spread of the virus in southern England. Under tier three restrictions, people are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas and with both offices falling under this band, we would advise you to arrange meetings with your lawyer via video conferencing facilities. You can do this via Microsoft Teams, Zoom or WhatsApp, which is end-to-end encrypted. Administrative staff will continue to be on hand at our offices from an operational perspective and we are looking to reduce numbers, where possible.

As part of the rules, people will be permitted to meet in outdoor public spaces in a group of up to six but will be unable to mix indoors unless this includes those in your household or bubble. Shops, gymnasiums and hair dressing facilities can remain open but pubs, cafes and restaurants will be closed except for delivery and takeaway services. Sporting events will be closed as will indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres. Schools will remain open this week despite a letter to head teachers from Greenwich Council asking for schools to close from 15 December and resort to online learning, a move that has sparked a reaction from the Government to which the council have reluctantly acceded.

The majority of our staff will continue to work from home and if a face-to-face meeting is required, please contact your lawyer in advance. To keep you and our staff safe, callers without an appointment will not for now be admitted to our offices. Post should be delivered through the letterboxes rather than handing to our colleagues in the office. You are urged to contact us instead by telephone, e-mail or using the contact form on our website. For those who do have an appointment, your temperature may be taken via a digital, non-contact thermometer and we would request the wearing of a face covering throughout your visit, unless you are exempt. Please use the NHS track and trace app QR code on entry. If any COVID-19 symptoms develop or you have come into contact with someone that has tested positive for the virus ahead of your meeting, please let us know to allow us to re-schedule your appointment.

You can keep up to speed with the updates via the Government website and we will continue to summarise any further changes, where applicable.