BERKSHIRE has been placed into tier 3, the strictest coronavirus restrictions in England, the government has announced.

Whilst Basingstoke and Deane has stayed in tier 2, it means that people living on the border with Berkshire face a dilemma in their day to day lives when the new rules come into force just after midnight tonight (Saturday at 00.01).

Towns and villages such as Kingsclere, Headley, Bishop's Green, Baughurst, Tadley and Silchester all lie within Hampshire, but close to the West Berkshire border.

Here is what you can and can't do if you live in one of these areas:

Can I continue to shop or work in tier 3 areas?

For residents of villages such as Bishop's Green or Headley, it may be quicker and easier to pop to a supermarket in Newbury rather than travel to the likes of Tadley or Basingstoke.

And many people who live in Tadley or Baughurst may work across the border, such as at AWE Aldermaston, one of the largest employers in the region.

Whilst supermarkets, classed as an essential service, will remain open when tier 3 rules take effect in Berkshire tonight, the government advises against travelling from a tier 2 area to a tier 3 area for all but a number of reasons, listed below.

And although the government advises everyone in tier 2 to work from home where they can, you are still able to go to work across the border if you're unable to work from home.

Its website, offering advice to those in tier 2 areas, says: "Avoid travel to or overnight stays in Tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as: for work; for education; to access voluntary, charitable or youth services; to visit your support bubble; to receive medical treatment; for moving home; and because of caring responsibilities."

So if you work or go to school across the border, you can still cross the border, although taking a slightly longer journey to go to the supermarket might be best advised under the government's advice.

Can I still form a Christmas bubble with family from a tier 3 area?

On the government website, there is nothing that categorically says you can or cannot do this.

Whilst the government say "the safest way to spend this Christmas is with your household or support bubble in your own home", they are allowing up to three households to form a 'Christmas bubble' between December 23 and 27.

Christmas bubbles can spend time together in private homes, attend places of worship or meet in a public outdoor place.

However, they are not allowed to meet in other public indoor spaces.

If you meet with your Christmas bubble in a public area, you must follow the rules for the tier you are meeting in.

The government also advise anyone in a tier 3 area to avoid travelling to areas with a lower prevalence of the virus during the Christmas period.

Can I still travel through tier 3 areas?

In short, yes.

If you are travelling somewhere else, you are still allowed to travel through a tier 3 area.

For many people in Basingstoke and Deane, that might involve travelling through Berkshire - the A33, A339 and A34 all go through the county and meet the M4.

Is there a different between the case rates in North Hampshire and South Berkshire?

Here are the latest figures for the areas either side of the border - they are for the seven days to December 12.

  • HANTS - Woolton Hill, Burghclere & Bishops Green - 8 new cases in seven day to December 12 (105.5 rolling rate) - below England average
  • HANTS - Kingsclere & Heath End - 4 (55.1) - below England average
  • HANTS - Tadley West - 6 (81.8) - below England average
  • HANTS - Tadley East, Pamber and Silchester - 13 (168.7) - above England average
  • HANTS - Bramley, Sherfield & the Sherbornes - 15 (158.8) - around England average
  • BERKS - Kintbury & Boxford - 3 (46.1) - below England average
  • BERKS - Newbury Wash Common - 9 (95.2) - below England average
  • BERKS - Newbury Central & Greenham - 30 (292.3) - above England average
  • BERKS - Thatcham South East & Bradfield - 25 (241.9) - above England average
  • BERKS - Mortimer & Aldermaston Wharf - 7 (120.4) - below England average