London is now in the UK Government’s new Tier Four (Stay at Home). These restrictions are similar to the national restrictions in November and will apply throughout the Christmas period.
The Tier Four restrictions have been introduced in response to a new COVID-19 strain that is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than previous variants. These rules replace the Government’s instructions about "Christmas bubbles" announced earlier this month. The Prime Minister has said that all tiers will be reviewed regularly, and the next formal review will take place on 30 December.
In Tier Four areas, people should only spend time with the people in their household, with some exceptions.
What counts as a household?
A household usually means the people you live with, and if you are in halls, your household means the people with whom you share a kitchen or bathroom. Students are considered to be both part of your term time household and your family household if you return home between 3 December 2020 and 7 February 2021. You are permitted to travel home once during this period and must not move back and forward between your permanent and term time household.
Travelling home for the winter break
Students who could travel were encouraged to return home during the Government’s travel window between 3 and 9 December. We have been advised by the Government that if you are in London, you are still allowed to travel home once between 3 December 2020 and 7 February 2021, even if you are travelling to or from a Tier Four area.
If you are planning to travel to somewhere outside the United Kingdom, you should check whether your destination country has any restrictions in place that may affect your plans. International travel is now increasingly restricted, with some countries closing their borders, and the Government is advising against all non-essential travel to some countries and territories. For the latest guidance, please visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. We know some EU, EEA and Swiss staff and students are planning to travel to the UK before 31 December in order to apply for settled or pre-settled status, and may be affected by the new travel restrictions. UCL is working with the Russell Group to clarify what this means for you and will share more information with you as soon as we can.
Please think very carefully if you are planning to go home for the rest of the winter break. If your journey is essential, please follow UCL’s travel advice and talk to your family and friends about how your visit could impact them, especially those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch coronavirus. If you do decide to leave London, there is a chance that you might be carrying the new variant strain of COVID-19. To help prevent the spread of infection, the safest thing to do is to self-isolate for ten days when you arrive. Check the local coronavirus guidance for your destination before you go, as the rules may be different in other countries, as well as Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) you must self-isolate immediately and not travel. Find out what to do if you feel unwell on the UCL website.
Further support and guidance
Wherever you are spending the winter break, please continue to follow the guidance for your area. The pandemic is evolving and restrictions may change again at short notice. Visit the UK Government website for the latest information.
Many of you will have made plans to see friends and family after a very difficult year, and we know it will be disappointing if you now have to change them. Please get in touch with UCL’s Student Support & Wellbeing team , who are on hand throughout the break, if you would like to talk to someone about how the pandemic is affecting you.
UCL will continue to monitor the Government guidance and what it means for you as the situation evolves. We will share more information with you as soon as we have more details about how these new restrictions will affect plans for Term Two.