The city of Oxford will move into Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from 00:01 on Saturday 31 October, it has been announced.
This puts the city under the ‘High’ COVID Alert level, having previously been listed under ‘Medium’, despite objections from local council leaders.
Under the new Tier 2 restrictions, people in Oxford will not be allowed to socialise indoors with anybody who is not in their household, except for those in their ‘support bubble’.
Schools and universities are allowed to remain open under Tier 2, but many Oxford University colleges banned households from mixing in student rooms from the start of Michaelmas term, tougher measures than the original Tier 1 restrictions demanded.
However, numerous colleges have been hosting social events for students in outdoor marquees, which could be affected by the new Tier 2 rules on indoor gatherings.
The rule of six will continue to apply for people socialising outdoors, but under the ‘High’ alert, people will not be allowed to socialise with those from another area.
The city’s pubs and restaurants will continue to close at 10pm.
On the week ending 23 October, the coronavirus infection rate in Oxford was 134.5 per 100,000, rising to 151.5 in the Cherwell district.
In a statement, Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, called on Oxford residents to “come together” to follow the new rules, adding that the move into Tier 2 was one encouraged by local councils, public health officials and universities.
However, the wider county of Oxfordshire will not move into Tier 2. Moran said that she was “disappointed” by the decision and will “continue to press for that given the spread of the virus in our community”.
The new measures for Oxford come days after The Oxford Blue reported that local council leaders were urging the Government to introduce Tier 2 measures in the county.
Boris Johnson is also under growing pressure to follow France and Germany and announce a second national coronavirus lockdown as UK COVID-19 cases soar daily.
Oxford University has been contacted for comment.
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