Now that the nationwide lockdown in England has come to an end, different areas of the country have been placed in one of three tiers.
Last week, Matt Hancock delivered a speech at the House of Commons, during which he said the country will return to a tiered approach to drive the coronavirus transmission rate down ahead of Christmas.
The tier allocations will be reviewed every two weeks, he added, before urging people to “think of our own responsibilities to keep the virus under control”.
“The less any one person passes on the disease, the faster we can get this disease under control together,” he said.
But what does all of this mean for couples who do not live together and for those in nascent relationships?
As there have been various changes to the rules regarding physical contact and overnight stays throughout the pandemic, here’s everything you need to know about how the relationship rules differ in each tier.
Tier 1 (medium alert)
In Tier 1, you are not allowed to socialise in groups larger than six indoors or outdoors.
However, you are allowed to meet indoors and outdoors in smaller groups, meaning those in couples can spend time together in pubs, bars and restaurants, which close at 11pm.
However, they must maintain social distancing unless they live together, or are in the same support bubble.
Can you stay the night at eachother’s homes?
You can spend time inside your partner’s home, but you may only stay the night if they are part of your support bubble.
A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.
When you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.
Tier 2 (high alert)
In Tier 2, you can only socialise with people outside of your household or support bubble outdoors.
This means that couples can go on dates so long as they stay outside the entire time and maintain social distancing.
For example, a Tier 2 date could take the form of a walk in the park and a drink in a pub garden.
Like in Tier 1, pubs and restaurants remain open in Tier 2 but must close at 11pm, with last orders at 10pm.
Can you stay at each other’s homes?
In Tier 2, you cannot socialise indoors with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.
This means that, like in Tier 1, it is not permitted for anyone to spend the night at a partner’s home if they are not in their support bubble.
Tier 3 (very high alert)
In Tier 3, you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with in any indoor setting or in any private garden.
Additionally, pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as takeaway and delivery services.
You are permitted to meet up with people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, so long as you only do so in outdoor public spaces and maintain social distancing.
For example, you could go on social distancing dates in parks, beaches, areas of countryside, forests and public gardens.
Can you stay at each other’s homes?
It is against the rules to meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
This means you can only stay overnight at another person’s home in Tier 3 if they are part of your support bubble.