Gyms, barbers and hairdressers could remain closed after lockdown if the North East is moved into Tier 3, a Cabinet Minister has indicated.
The North East is reportedly in line to be moved to Tier 3 when the lockdown ends, due to rising coronavirus rates.
The region including County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland was in Tier 2 before the lockdown, but it is at risk of being placed in the highest tier of restrictions if the lockdown ends as planned on December 2.
Tier 3 means bars and pubs would be closed unless they serve substantial food. Restaurants could open, as could shops and retailers.
Under the baseline restrictions, gyms, barbers and hairdressers are allowed to remain open, and did so in Tier 3 areas before the second lockdown, with the exception of Liverpool, where gyms did shut, before being reopened again.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast the Government will be looking at whether it can “embed” the additional measures which were optional when the Three Tier system was previously in place.
The optional measures include shutting indoor entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres, closing leisure centres and gyms, and shutting ‘personal care and close contact services’ which include barbers, hairdressers and beauticians.
If the Government does choose to embed those measures, it would mean the Government could force facilities to close, instead of allowing councils to chose.
Asked if there could be a tougher tier than Tier 3 in the new system, Mr Jenrick said: “We haven’t come to a decision on that. The Tier 3 that we had before was just considered a baseline. And then we did ask local areas whether they would be willing to go further and some did.
“My own area of Nottinghamshire, the local council chose to go over and above and limit the sale of alcohol for off-licences and so on after a certain time, so that people didn’t go home and have parties or drink alcohol on the streets. So there were some tweaks to the tiers that you’re seeing in some parts of the country and it’s that sort of thing that we now need to consider.
“Was that a sensible move? If so, should we embed that in the new tier structure?”
Although Mr Jenrick mentioned alcohol restrictions in his area, the optional measures do apply to gyms, barbers and hairdressers.
Liverpool closed its gyms when it was under Tier 3, although they later reopened before being shut again when the lockdown was implemented. Hairdressers and barbers remained open in Merseyside throughout.
A decision on what measures to put in place when the lockdown ends is expected late next week.