But Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are breaking out of lockdown at level 3, while the areas surrounding this level 3 island are at level 2.
The biggest difference between level 3 and level 2 is that bars, pubs and restaurants can reopen at level 2 – provided anyone presents a ‘substantial meal’ and adheres to all previous Covid guidelines such as staying at your table, be only in groups of six or less, wear a mask when traveling, etc.
At level 3, pubs and restaurants remain closed – unless they sell take-out food and drink.
The government’s new tier laws – which will be voted on by MPs this week – also do not allow people living at tier 3 to upgrade to tier 2, unless their travel is for business or otherwise essential.
This means that people living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset cannot travel outside of their area to go to a pub or restaurant for a meal. The principle is that a person living in a level 3 zone takes their level 3 status with them when they leave their level 3 zone.
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This does not apply, however, if you live on level 3 and work in a pub on level 2, by the way, you can still go to work.
So suddenly in the middle of this week there will be a border between Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the surrounding area, which means more than who you pay your council tax to and who collects your trash.
Suddenly where the border is dictates whether you can go to the pub or not, and whether the pub will be open or not.
But where is this border? What does that look like and what communities are going to be divided between those who can have a pie and fries in a pub and those who cannot.
Bath et North East Somerset
The closest to Bristol, the first and most obvious place on Level 2 is Bath and North East Somerset, and it’s closer to Bristol than you might think otherwise.
The border between levels 3 and 2 is obviously right on the edge of Bristol. Exit Brislington on the A4, pass the park and drive and before you reach the Hicks Gate roundabout where the Avon Ring Road joins the A4 you are in Bath and North East Somerset, and on level 2.
Far south of the River Avon is in B & NES, so on level 2, all the way from Keynsham to Saltford. Far north of the river is in South Gloucestershire, so on level 3 – where pubs have to stay closed or just make take out food and drink.
This opens up the prospect of bizarre rules on riverside pubs – always popular Christmas meal destinations.
The Old Lock & Weir Inn at Hanham Lock sits on the north bank of the River Avon, so in South Gloucestershire. It will have to remain closed and only do take out.
Further along the river in Keynsham there is an island pub in the middle of the river at Keynsham Lock.
On the north side of the river is South Gloucestershire, on the south side of the river, in the town of Keynsham, this is North East Somerset – but the pub itself, according to the Ordnance Survey council boundary map, is in South Gloucestershire, as the border follows the main flow of the river, rather than the lock itself to the north.
Across the road and over the bridge is the Brassmill pub – which is firmly in B & NES, so will be able to open for meals this week.
The border between Bristol and B & NES is actually quite short – just a section at the southern end of town between Brislington and Whitchurch.
In Whitchurch itself, a suburb of Bristol on the A37 Wells road, the border is over the bridge over the river – with everything south of the bridge, known as Whitchurch Village, in B & NES.
This means the Toby Carvery in Maes Knoll, in the heart of Whitchurch, will be able to reopen under Level 2 restrictions, but no one living in the nearby streets across the border will be able to walk there and sit down for a meal. over there.
The Bristol-B & NES border runs up Dundry Slopes before it becomes the North Somerset-North East Somerset border – and if things weren’t already weird, that’s when they start to get weird.
North ou North East Somerset?
Dundry, with its country pubs on the outskirts of Bristol, is in North Somerset, so it will have to stay open only for take out, for example.
The border between North Somerset and North East Somerset appears to have let her three-year-old draw it on the map. It weaves in and out of farmyards, encompassing hills and entire villages in large, undulating loops, with no apparent rhyme or reason.
For the 1990s, when Avon was disbanded and Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset were created, the bizarre nature of the border meant little except to garbage collectors navigating the lanes.
Now, however, that makes the difference between going to the pub for a meal or not.
So, that means Chew Valley is now split in two.
In Winford, they cannot yet open the gates of the Prince of Waterloo, but on the road to Chew Magna, the Bear and the Swan and the Pelican can both reopen.
Perhaps the strangest situation on the wavy line between North Somerset and North East Somerset, is in the small village of Regil, where the Crown Inn is located.
Less than a mile down the road to the east is Bath and North East Somerset. Less than a mile down the road to the west is also Bath and North East Somerset – Regil sits on the inside curve of one of those scribbles, a strip of North Somerset jutting out into the countryside.
Further into the Chew Valley the border crosses Lake Blagdon and the village of Blagdon is in North Somerset, while Ubley is in the B & NES.
And then the border of North Somerset becomes the border with the county of Somerset proper and the district of Mendip.
All of Somerset is on level 2 so restaurants and pubs can open there as well – meaning the people of Cheddar and Axbridge are on level 2, but just above Mendip Ridge, those of Winscombe , Churchill and Congresbury cannot.
And furthermore, residents of Winscombe, Churchill and Congresbury also cannot walk up Crook Peak to Axbridge to go out for a meal.
Further west, the border between levels 2 and 3 means pubs and restaurants in Burnham-on-Sea will be able to open this week, but not in Weston-super-Mare – the border begins in the Bristol Channel from north side, Weston side, of Brean Down.
To the north and east of Bristol, the South Gloucestershire countryside, with Thornbury, Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Winterbourne, lies in the same level 3 boat. Beyond South Gloucestershire lies the district of Stroud of Gloucestershire, the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire.
The border here is also wavy, following the lines drawn when Avon was established and Gloucestershire lost its southern end in 1974.
From the River Severn, it heads east into the Severn Vale in Shepperdine, and means the people of Thornbury can’t go for a meal, but those in nearby Berkeley can.
It crosses the M5 near Wotton-under-Edge – basically between junction 14 for Falfield and Michaelwood services, putting those services at level 2, but then veers south of Wotton, so Wotton is at level 2, while Charfield, a few miles to the west is Level 3 of South Gloucestershire.
The border follows a river upstream, placing the small town of Wickwar in Tier 3 South Gloucestershire on the south bank, but Hillesley across the river at Tier 2.
Then the border climbs over the Cotswold escarpment so that Hawkesbury Upton is at level 3 but nearby Didmarton in Gloucestershire is at level 2.
The newly important border runs through the Duke of Beaufort’s vast badminton estate – and the inns of places like Sherston and Luckington on the west side of the estate are on Wiltshire level 2, while the pubs of Acton Turville, Tormarton and Badminton are at level 3., and must remain closed.
The Wiltshire-South Gloucestershire border follows the M4 for a while, before descending south towards Bath. This means that the ancient Cotswold town of Marshfield is at level 3 – fair – while people who live within two miles of The Shoe, yes it is a pretty Wiltshire Cotswold village on the A420 main road between Bristol and Chippenham, can choose a restaurant to visit nearby.
The Wiltshire-South Gloucestershire border continues to run roughly north-south to the northern fringes of Bath, following the line of the old Roman Fosse Way.
The Fosse Way was, for a generation, a sort of dividing line in Roman Britain – the lands to the east of it had been placed entirely under Roman rule, but to the west of it. , was a lawless country.
Now everything in the west is still subject to tighter restrictions, but in the east, Wiltshire, residents of Colerne, Box and Bradford-on-Avon will be able to dine out this week.
Just north of Bath, the southern border of Gloucestershire reaches the border of Bath and north-eastern Somerset, and turns west again, skirting the northern fringe of Bath to the beautiful St Catherine’s Valley.
It crosses the A46 near Nimlet, then approaches the eastern fringes of the Bristol part of southern Gloucestershire, reaching the River Avon at Swineford, near the A431.
From there it largely follows the course of the River Avon passing Saltford and Keynsham again to Hanham.