Since Boris Johnson and his government introduced a tiering system in order to control the spread of Covid-19, the UK has become divided into its own separate territories. Where I live, I am under tier 1 which feels like nothing really. The only things I must really adhere to is the rule of six, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Life is easy, well as easy as it can be in the year of 2020. However, it seems that almost every day a new city or area is forced into tier 3 lockdown restrictions. I have wondered what life must be like in these tier 3 areas because after all, I doubt where I live will ever rise into that category due to population density and so on. Liverpool was the first to go followed by Lancashire, South Yorkshire, and Manchester. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was a knight of the north for many, he was seemingly the first local leader to stand up to the government, posing the question of how his residents would be supported. After much ping-ponging between Boris Johnson and Burnham, the government agreed to give a £60m support package for the doomed city as they too entered tier 3 lockdown.

As with most things this government has implemented regarding coronavirus, these restrictions and the tiering system are rather confusing. When Liverpool and Lancashire first entered tier 3, there was no standardisation between the two. As part of the Merseyside deal, gyms and leisure centres were told to shut up shop whereas in Lancashire they remained open. After much discussion between local leaders and the government, they agreed to bring a standardised approach to tier 3 restrictions meaning there is now no difference in what is and is not open in these tier 3 locations. Some of the rules seem outright counterintuitive. A pub can stay open if they serve ‘substantial meals’ which is understandable, the UK economy is already on it’s knees and so any fighting chance to stimulate it is welcomed. The reason I call it counterintuitive is simple, a virus is not going to leave the pub if it serves meals instead of solely drink is it? Just like the 10 pm curfew there is nationwide, the virus is not going to disappear until 10pm each night to infect revellers is it? Maybe disallowing the service of solely drink might bring fewer numbers to the pubs but many of the rules just seem, thrown in, not thought through.

My brother attends Manchester university. Before he left for the city, we had much debate to whether he stay here or head up. Looking at things now, it would have probably been better if he had stayed down here. I asked him whether he had had any face to face lectures since going up and was rather surprised to hear it was a ‘NO’. Even when the tiering system wasn’t a thing there were no face to face lectures occurring which I do find strange considering I’ve been having face to face lessons exclusively since I returned to college in September as have many of my friends in their colleges. I spoke to my brother briefly on the phone whilst writing this and honestly, it does not seem too different from life down here. The main difference is seemingly with food venues, my brother can still go to the gym and be with his friends (that are in his bubble) among other things. However, he did say that some places ‘take advantage’ of customers and refuse to serve drinks if they feel the food you have ordered is not ‘substantial’. Who can even determine what a ‘substantial’ meal is? Not even businesses can interpret or standardise these rules. It needs to be clearer.

Although on paper there is a stark difference between tier one areas and tier three areas, I struggle to see how great of an impact it would have on my personal life. Obviously, this will not apply to everyone but I can go to the gym where I live, as those under tier 3 , I can go out to eat and drink, those in tier 3 can as long as they have a ‘substantial’ meal at the establishment and we can both see other people (I can mix with any household but those in the highest tier can only mix with their household). So, is there really that much difference? With the government’s top scientists not having faith in the tiering system, it does seem a bit naff. People are losing their jobs, being torn away from their family members and friends and for some people, being locked up in a tier 3 area can become all too much. It all feels like a large game of monopoly, but with actual humans and actual money. Those lucky enough to live in tier 1 can consider themselves the ‘Mayfair’ of the UK and those who live under the tier 3 restrictions can consider themselves as the ‘Old Kent road’. We can only lie in hope that when the new year comes, things get better.