23rd Oct 2020
The advent of new Tier 1, 2 and 3 restrictions in the UK has changed who can meet their friends and family and where they can do it. Tier 2 restrictions mean that households can no longer mix indoors within certain regions, but with Winter approaching how can families and friends meet outside in the garden both safely and comfortably?
It's safe to say that we've all experienced some dramatic changes throughout 2020. When the initial national lockdown was announced in March, every single person in the country worked hard to adjust their lifestyles in order to keep the population safe. It impacted every aspect of life, and it continues to do so.
Since then, even those life changes themselves have changed too. We've all had to adapt to different rules, restrictions and regulations multiple times, and sometimes on a weekly basis. However, as you may already know, a recent revamp of the UK's approach to handling the pandemic has brought about another new system (and one that is likely to remain with us for quite some time).
What actually is the UK's tiered lockdown system?
The latest system employs a tiered structure in order to provide different restrictions in a more localised manner. The tiers consist of:
Different areas across the UK all fall under different tiers based on the risk of infection, and each tier comes with a differing set of rules and restrictions which are there to try and lower the number of COVID cases and reduce the chances of further transmission. These rules include more drastic restrictions as the tier rises (with 3 being the highest), and each tier means that what individuals in certain areas are able to do (or not do) certain things.
The social impact of tiered restrictions
When it comes to meeting up with people, tier 1 and tier 2 still allow you to do so, but under very strict measures. Tier 3 does allow for some form of social interaction still, but with the restrictions in place in tier 3 areas it is extremely difficult to do so in a safe, controlled manner. This is why tier 3 means no mixing of households both indoors or outdoors in homes, hospitality venues or private gardens . Public spaces such as parks are still able to be utilised, but the rule of 6 (no more than 6 individuals) applies in these areas, and strict social distancing measures must be adhered to. Pubs and bars that don't serve meals in tier 3 areas must also remain closed.
However, if you happen to be within a tier 1 or tier 2 area, meeting your friends and family from outside of your household in an outdoor space such as your garden is still allowed (providing the rule of 6 is followed and social distancing measures are in place). Tier 1 is the only tier that allows for household mixing indoors, but again the rule of 6 and social distancing must be followed.
For the rest of our article, we're going to look at keeping safe outdoors, and more specifically how you can make your garden or private outdoor space as safe and comfortable as possible for
socialising in tier 1 and tier 2 areas. Preventing the spread is incredibly important regardless of what tier your area currently falls under, so we're going to help you do just that so that you don't have to sacrifice precious time with those that you truly care about.
It's time to head outside
Following the UK government's advice, social interactions outdoors are deemed to be much safer than doing so inside. As we've already mentioned, practising safe social distancing and sticking to the rule of 6 (which is required for every single tier of the new system) is a great starting point for remaining safe. But there's a lot more that you can do to improve the safety and comfort of social situations in private outdoor spaces. Let's take a look at your options...
Creating flexible safety screens
As you may have noticed over the past few months, many of the businesses who are able to remain open are utilising screens to protect their staff and their loyal customers. Many of these screens are made from quite rigid clear plastic which offers great protection without hindering visibility.
However, when it comes to flexibility, a rigid material isn't always the best solution. Large, thick, rigid screens can often be quite pricey, particularly if you don't intend to cut them to the correct size and shape yourself. Storing them out of the way can also be frustrating if you're running low on space, and a large screen falling over (or even sharp edges from a screen that hasn't quite been finished properly) can be a major hazard. A great alternative that tackles these problems would be a clear tarpaulin.
Using a clear tarp such as the Monotex 250gsm Clear Tarpaulins, you can spend less initially without having to worry about spending too much time and money to get them cut to meet your needs. Our tarps come in a diverse range of sizes, so you can simply find the size you need with ease. It's also much easier to hang and position a tarp as opposed to creating a complex and sturdy mounting solution for a rigid screen. As long as you have somewhere to tie the tarp to, you can hang it anywhere you like and take it down again just as easily. When you do take the tarp down (as you may not want it hanging there on a permanent basis), a flexible tarp can be quickly and easily folded away without a problem. Plus, there's no need to round off any edges or worry about a heavy solid structure falling and potentially causing a severe injury.
Blocking out the Winter weather
It's that time of year when the weather is getting a little more cold and wet. It is the UK after all! But that doesn't mean that you have to endure the pain of it all during pretty much your only social option in the current lockdown situation. We can help you to keep the rain, snow, hail and wind from breaking up your garden meet-ups.
As we mentioned above, a tarpaulin provides a great way to add protection to your outdoor space. But they can be used to protect you from more than the COVID virus too. By hanging a tarpaulin above your garden or meeting area, you essentially gain a temporary roof that keeps you, your friends and your family safe from that good old British Winter weather.
|We stock tarps in a wide variety of sizes to suit any space, whilst a vast selection of colours means that you can easily find a tarp that won't spoil the aesthetics of your garden. However, our 200gsm topgrade black or white tarps, as well as our clear Monotex tarpaulins, offer a great neutral solution that can easily match the look and feel of your space with minimal effort, all whilst keeping you protected from the elements. You can even hang large tarpaulins around the edges of your area to prevent heavy winds from getting through and causing a serious chill (this also works for that annoying sideways rain and snow that can often catch you off guard). Our range of hold-ons, bungees, ties and other accessories provide a quick, easy way to hang and mount your tarps, providing that you have somewhere to tie/mount them at the other side|
Once the rain has fallen, you might feel that taking the tarp down could be a dangerous game of trying to dodge the waterfall that may drench you the second you loosen everything off. However, we also have a handy tarp drainage solution that means you can get rid of excess water before you take the tarp down, so don't worry about that. And like we said above, once the tarp is down, simply ensure that it's nice and dry and then fold it away until you need it next.
Keeping warm for comfort and safety
Keeping warm is crucial for comfort, especially during the Winter months. That means it's time to think about heating. Patio heaters and outdoor electric heating solutions are an excellent option. Many of the outdoor heaters available today boast a sufficient IP protection class that will keep moisture and particulates from causing damage to the heater itself, as well as any of your mains circuitry. If you choose to go down this route, it's best to make sure that you also have IP-rated outdoor mains sockets or an easily-accessible and safe indoor socket. Just make sure that any wires are kept out of the way or taped down to reduce the risk of people tripping over them.
Another option is a little more primitive, but incredibly effective and cosy. That option is fire. You may have an existing firepit or an outdoor burner which is an excellent choice for keeping you and your loved ones warm. A good, safely-created and maintained fire offers a great place for you all to congregate around to keep yourselves warm, and it can even be a great focal point that can add some beautiful ambient drama to any outdoor setting, particularly at darker times of the day. Just make sure that no matter how you create your fire, you do it safely and well away from any flammable materials (and people). It's easy for a fire to get out of hand quite quickly, so do your research and follow best practises in order to keep everyone in your area (and that includes your neighbours) safe.
If you do opt for a fire, our flame-retardant tarps mean that you can still remain protected from the weather with less of a risk of your outdoor space going up in flames. Literally. These multi-purpose tarps are also waterproof, and they allow light to pass through too, so they won't bathe you in complete darkness if you use them throughout the day.
Straightforward accessibility and movement
Ensuring that the people who are visiting your garden are able to get to it safely should be one of your first priorities, particularly if you're in an area that currently falls into the tier 2 bracket. In a tier 1 area, indoor household mixing is technically still allowed, so if you don't have direct garden access then you may be able to get away with your visitors making their way through your property and into the garden (providing social distancing is followed). However, with tier 2, it becomes a little more complicated.
Under tier 2 restrictions, you mustn't meet anyone from outside of your household or support bubble in an indoor setting. This includes public spaces as well as your home. That means having individuals who aren't from your household or support bubble cannot enter your home. If you don't have direct garden access, this could be problematic, and you may have to either create a legal access point if possible, or meet at another individual's house who does have direct access to their outdoor space. You can always opt to socialise in the front garden, but just be mindful of other people in your area.
If you do have direct garden access, make sure that it's safe to get in and out with minimal surface contact. COVID-19 is capable of living on different surfaces for quite some time, and this time varies depending on the material that the surface is made from. It's worth properly sanitizing any door handles or contact points both before and after anyone has touched them to minimise the risk entirely. You might think that it's not necessary if you don't have or haven’t had the virus, but risking the safety of yourself and other simply isn't worth it. Plus, if you or anyone coming to your outdoor space does or has had the virus recently, they simply shouldn't be there. There are strict rules regarding isolation for individuals who show symptoms and/or have the virus, and these should most definitely be followed at all times. Individuals not following the rules can be prosecuted and face hefty fines, particularly for consistent offenders.
Once access points have been addressed, make sure that people can move freely and safely throughout the outdoor space. Any potential hazards should be addressed prior to anyone utilising the space in order to prevent injury or worse. A trip to the hospital can be significantly less fun than a few hours with your friends in the garden...
Lighting up your space
Alongside the adverse weather conditions that Winter brings, darker nights and shorter days are also on the agenda. That means you might want to think about adding some lighting to your space so that 1) you can see everyone and everything effectively, and 2) your garden or outdoor area will look great, especially with some creative uses of certain lighting elements.
You can get hold of a huge variety of different outdoor lighting solutions these days. Whether you want large, bright fixtures that provide a vast blanket of light, or more sedate ambient lighting that adds atmosphere and a unique flavour to a certain area. You'll be spoilt for choice with the options available, so have a good think about what you want to achieve with your lighting, what the conditions may be during your meet-ups, and your budget. Go wild, or add a simple splash of colour and light. It can transform any space in seconds whilst also keeping people safe (as they're able to spot any hazards) and comfortable.
Getting creative and personal with your space
This one is more about how you want your space to look and feel. With the coronavirus pandemic, the world is definitely feeling a little more miserable than usual, so taking the time to make your garden an enjoyable place to be is well worth it for everyone involved.
As we mentioned above, you can do that with lighting, but you can decorate your garden however you want to with a huge variety of different things. You'll also want to make sure that everyone has a comfortable seat, as well as somewhere to put things that they may not want to keep hold of for the entire duration of their visit. No matter how you choose to decorate or do-up your outdoor space, just remember to keep it safe and address any hazards in advance.
The finishing touches for maximising safety
Here's a few final pointers for keeping you, your friends and your family safe in the garden during the UK's tiered lockdown process:
- Adhere to the rule of 6 at all times
- Practise safe social distancing at all times
- Sanitize any surfaces and contact points where possible
- Wash your hands whenever possible (following the guidelines set out by the government and WHO)
- Keep a sensible supply of hand sanitiser around in your outdoor spaces (ideally your visitors should bring their own to prevent unnecessary surface contact)
- Adhere to local and national restrictions at all times, as set out in the UK government's tiered lockdown rules
All set for social safety
Hopefully we've given you some ideas and inspiration for making your garden safe and comfortable during this difficult time. If we all work together to ensure that we are following the rules and creating a safe environment for everyone around us (as well as ourselves), the closer we can get to coming out of the other side of it all. That's what we all want, and that's what we should all strive to achieve.
If you have any questions regarding anything we've spoken about above, or if you'd like anymore information on the products that we can offer you, don't hesitate to get in touch with us here at Tarpaulins Direct today . Our friendly team are always on hand to help you with your enquiries.