London’s lockdown status was lifted on the 2nd of December, and with it, a wave of relief as people begin planning their festive season. With shops, bars and restaurants all open and a number of live music, theatre and entertainment venues beginning to open their doors, you might be mistaken in thinking that everything is returning to how it was in pre-pandemic times.
Whilst you can still book those getaways in London, there are some major differences that demand consideration during London’s transition from lockdown into tier 2. Tier 2 is still impeding on international travel, but UK locals who want to enjoy the all-encompassing London experience can still do so if they keep to the tight restrictions and social distancing measures.
If you know the limits of tier 2, this doesn’t have to affect your trip to London too dramatically. This guide will help you to tackle what is reopening, and what isn’t in the city, offering alternative options for city dining, travel and accommodation that will keep you safe and healthy during tier 2.
Tier 2 Rules
Tier 2 is a step down from the strict rules of lockdown, but there are still a large number of limitations when it comes to organising public outings, events and hotel bookings. Under tier 2, you can now visit pubs, galleries, events and public spaces in groups of up to six people. The rule of six also puts limits on the number of households allowed to mix, limiting this to just 2 at a time. Furthermore, you won’t be able to mingle in another household at all, meaning that any meetings should be kept to outdoor spaces or customer serving venues and businesses.
Ways You Can Enjoy London In Tier 2
So, with those changes in mind, there are still many options open to visitors exploring Tier 2 London.
On December 2nd many hotels began to open their doors again to visitors, albeit with limited capacity. Hotels offer strict sanitisation protocols and hawklike rigour and efficiency on the subject of COVID proofing their facilities. All rooms are sanitised, hotel lobbies are socially distanced and when moving around the accommodation, all guests and staff will have to wear face masks. You can even get your luggage sanitised before porters carry it for you. The Montcalm hotel has been especially vigilant and offers guests daily Montcalm COVID-19 updates, providing guests with information on new protocols and rules as they’re announced.
Make sure to book your room at the Montcalm Marble Arch Hotel London well in advance. With their dedication to maintaining the Tier 2 rules, hotels like the Montcalm will be running at reduced capacity, and where possible, try to spread out guests in their rooms. This means that fewer rooms will be operational at any one time, attempting to maintain social distance between guests.
One way that hotels across the country are accommodating for Tier 2 guests is by allowing flexible booking and cancellation services. With public transport disrupted by the pandemic and the fluid, unpredictable nature of infection rates, it makes sense that the check-in times for many hotels has been made more flexible than it had been pre-pandemic. The same goes for cancellation policies as well, which now allow for more last-minute changes to your bookings.
Restaurant Room Service
Whilst restaurants at hotels like the Montcalm may be closed due to the coronavirus, their services are still available as optional room service. With mouthwatering selections of fine cuisine ranging from British classics to Pan-European delights, your weekend away could be kickstarted with a curated take “in” from the comfort of your room.
Alongside hotel bookings, you’ll also find that Air BnB’s, flat rentals and other short term accommodations might be working at limited capacity. Regardless of where you stay during your trip to London, the tier 2 restrictions don’t mean you can’t enjoy the city.
Tailored Art Galleries
Both historic and contemporary art galleries will be allowed to open their doors again, depending on if they’re deemed COVID friendly by health and safety regulators. Mitigating factors might include the size of gallery spaces and the number of hand sanitisation stations that can be comfortably installed in the galleries. Many key institutions, such as the National Gallery, have curated tailored tours of their most popular galleries, meaning that guests won’t risk forming crowds within the gallery spaces.
Temporary exhibitions may risk being postponed throughout Tier 2, but as with art galleries, booking in advance is key to a museum visit. If you’re planning on visiting institutions like the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, make sure that you’ve booked far enough in advance as they will be running limited capacity.
Theatre And Music
Whilst gigs with standing crowds are not permitted under Tier 2, limited capacity is once again key in theatres and music events. Social distancing may infringe on dancing, but you can still soak in some London culture at events at smaller gig venues such as Oslo in Hackney and EartH in Dalston. The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square has confirmed that it will be putting on shows over the coming weeks.
The Key Differences
So aside from venues and accommodation, what other differences are there to tier 2 in London?
Public transport is permitted for public use, but it’s advised that you only use it when necessary. Face masks should be worn at all times on underground services, buses and trains, as well as in taxis. You’ll find that tube services and railway stations have installed many hand sanitisation stations, whilst rail service will, where possible allocate socially distanced seating.
Many people have started cycling around London as an alternative to public transport. Bike rentals are cheap in the city, and the abundance of cycle paths throughout London’s parks, city centre and outskirts makes London easily traversable in two years, and perhaps will allow you to see even more of it than you would on public transport.