[Updated] Beauty businesses: everything you need to know about Covid-19 local lockdowns

With many parts of the UK in lockdown or under strict tier restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we give you the lowdown on what these localised rules mean for beauty businesses operating in those areas.

We also include an everything you need to know guide on the four-tier alert system for Covid-19 lockdowns in England, and Scotland's five-level system of coronavirus restrictions. 

Note: this page will be updated regularly as further news about these lockdowns break. 

What's happening in England?

As England enters coronavirus lockdown 3.0, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an address to the nation on January 4, salons, spas and mobile beauty businesses must shut their doors until mid-February after new figures showed that Covid-19 cases are rising quickly across all areas of the country due to the new variant of the virus. 

Johnson instructed people to "stay at home" as they did during the first lockdown in March, with schools and colleges closing from January 5 and moving to online learning. You can go outside once a day to exercise and meet one other person for one-to-one exercise, and to shop for yourself, your pet or for someone who needs it. 

Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive new grants to help them keep afloat until spring, chancellor Rishi Sunak has said, with the grants worth up to £9,000 per property. This help is in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021.

An additional £594 million will be made available to affected firms outside these sectors, Mr Sunak said. The lockdown restrictions will be reviewed on February 15. 

Prior to the January 4 announcement, England had been operating on a localised lockdown system with four tiers. An increasing number of areas had been placed into Tier 4 throughout December.

On December 19, it was announced that London, and many areas of the South East and East of England were effectively placed back into lockdown as a new Tier 4 was created. Personal care services were among those told to close from 00.01 on December 20.

On December 23, it was announced that additional areas, including Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and more would join the list from December 26.

Then additional areas including much of the North and the Midlands joined Tier 4 on December 31.

The changes were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson following the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus which spreads significantly more easily than the original strain.

Explained – the Government’s four-tier system for Covid-19 lockdowns in England: 

Tier one (medium) – People should continue to work from home where possible and spectator sports can resume but with limits on attendance. Most businesses including salons, spas and mobile therapists, will be allowed to operate as long as they are Covid-19-secure. The rule of six applies – you can socialise with up to six people indoors and outdoors. Hospitality businesses can operate providing table service only, for premises that serve alcohol, and will have to close between 11pm and 5am (taking last orders at 10pm).

Tier two (high) –  Beauty salons, gyms, non-essential retail and hairdressers can remain open, but pubs and bars can only keep their doors open if they are serving meals. Spectator sports can resume but with further limits on attendance. No indoors socialising is allowed by you can meet up to six people outdoors. Beauty salons, spas, hairdressers, barbers and gyms would remain open. 

Tier three (very high) – No indoor mixing other than in support bubbles. Outdoor mixing privately in support bubbles only or in public places in groupd of up to six. Hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, and indoor entertainment venues must also shut. Beauty salons, hairdressers, barbers and gyms remain open.

Tier four (stay at home) Non-essential retail, gyms, leisure and personal care including beauty salons and spas must close. Others must work from home if they can. People must not enter or leave Tier 4 areas or stay overnight away from home. You can meet one person from another household but outdoors only (except support bubbles).

Read the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan in full

What's happening in Scotland?

Scotland has also entered another national lockdown which means that beauty salons and spas will be forced to shut their doors until at least the end of January

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the new lockdown on January 4 and stated it would involve similar measures to the first lockdown in March 2020, with the "fundamental advice for everyone to stay at home".

People are now required by law to stay in their homes and to work from home, while outdoor gatherings have been restricted to one-on-one meet-ups, and schools will close to most pupils until February at the earliest.

The new measures came into force from January 5 and Sturgeon said the clampdown was necessary to contain the spread of the new strain of Covid-19.

The only areas that will remain in Tier 3 are the islands of Orkney; Shetland; Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles); the following islands within Argyll and Bute: Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, and Ulva; and all islands in Highland, with the exception of Skye, which comes within the national restrictions.

Prior to this announcement, beauty salons, hairdressers and barbers in Scotland were told on December 19 that they had to close for three weeks from Boxing Day.

Sturgeon also imposed a travel ban at that stage, meaning people could not enter Scotland from other parts of the UK.

Explained – Scotland’s five-level system of coronavirus restrictions:

Scotland's five-level system of coronavirus restrictions aims to help suppress the virus. The five tiers – level Zero to Four – will be applied in different areas of Scotland dependant on their Covid-19 rates. Sturgeon said the strategy was about “striking the best balances we can” between keeping infection rates down and avoiding wider harm to businesses and individuals.

Level 0 – Near Normal – Indoor meetings allowed, maximum eight people from three households. 15 people from five households can meet outdoors.

Level 1 – Medium – Six people from two households can meet indoors and outdoors. 

Level 2 – High – No indoor meetings with other households. Six people from two households can meet outdoors and in hospitality settings. This level will also involve closing pubs indoors or severely restricting opening times.

Level 3 – Very High – Closing pubs indoors and outdoors. Restaurants may be able to remain open under strict conditions. 

Level 4 – Lockdown – Closer to a full lockdown of the type the UK went into in March 2020, with non-essential shops being forced to close. Some outdoors meeting still allowed. Schools will stay open. 

Read the full list of restrictions happening in Scotland

What’s happening in Wales?

It was announced on January 8 that the nation will be in lockdown until at leat leate January when the rules will be reviewed.

Beauty salons and spas in Wales were ordered to shut from December 20, folllowing an announcement made on December 19 of a new coronavirus lockdown.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "With the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales and the high rates of cases we have seen in recent weeks... we have therefore reached the difficult decision to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales."

Bars and restaurants will only be able to open for takeaways and people will only be allowed to travel for "essential reasons". During the level four lockdown period, people will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with, with only single person households allowed to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household.

Before this, Wales came out of its 19-day "fire break" Covid-19 lockdown on November 9, with beauty salons, spas and mobile therapists able to open their businesses once again. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford brought the second lockdown into effect on October 23 and under the new rules all beauty businesses, along with all other non-essential retail shops, gyms, leisure centres, bars, restaurants and hospitality, had to close their doors until November 9. All residents of Wales also had to work from home unless they were critical workers. 

The Welsh Government announced a £300 million economic resilience fund to help businesses through that shutdown, and as part of this, any business covered by the small business rate relief would receive a £1,000 payment. 

Read the full list of restrictions in Wales.

What's happening in Northern Ireland?

On December 19, it was announced that salons, spas and mobile beauty therapists in Northern Ireland must close again from Boxing Day.

This is the latest in a series of lockdowns in the nation, the most recent being a two-week “circuit-break” lockdown that came into effect on November 27, just one week after they had been allowed to reopen following the previous closure period.

Prior to that, First minister Arlene Foster announced that the November Covid-19 lockdown would be extended for one more week, with a partial reopening of some sectors on November 20, including close-contact services and unlicensed premises. Beauty and hair salons were only be able to do treatments by appointment-only (no walk ins). 

Northern Ireland went into a second coronavirus lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus on October 16 for four weeks, with businesses originally expected to reopen on November 13. 

Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Ulster, Foster said "all I am trying to do" is find a balanced way forward, adding, "we need to look to the future and move on from this very difficult week for everyone in Northern Ireland watching as we struggle to make decisions". 

Read the full list of restrictions in Northern Ireland

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Check out the rules on clients wearing face coverings in salon for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland