A Day in the Life of a Barista: Is the new tier system working?

inside of a dark coffee shopTwo Baristas. Two different tiers of lockdown. What differences will they be seeing?

The world we live in is ever-changing, and with the new tier system the Government has brought in to combat Covid-19, new fears and anxieties have been highlighted throughout the country’s workforce.

The new tier system implemented by the government is where cities and their surrounding areas are separated into 3 tiers; Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3.

These tiers can also be identified by the risk level with Tier 1 being ‘Medium Risk’, 2 being ‘High Risk’ and finally Tier 3 which are seen as ‘Very High Risk’ areas. More information can be found on the gov.uk website.

Areas like Liverpool have been placed into Tier 3 as they are seen as ‘Very High Risk’ areas, with Leeds being placed into Tier 2. Many rural locations such as the vast majority of Lincolnshire have been placed into Tier 1, but more built-up areas such as Slough have also been placed into Tier 1.

So, what do these new restrictions mean? For people living in Tier 1, not much has changed since the new 6 person rule came in not so long ago. And the rule for Pubs and Bars to close at 10 pm is still in place.

Kirsten is a part-time barista who works at an independent cafe in Witham Saint Hughes, Lincolnshire. Her experience of the new system has not been too dissimilar to her life before these new restrictions came in.

“Business hasn’t really changed at all, I’m still working as much as usual”, due to the fact that Witham is in Tier 1 it seems like people are still going about their day to day life and going out for coffees.

The scariest part about these new tiers is how quickly they can change from one to another, we saw this happen with London as they were originally placed into Tier 1 but there was a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases which meant that the risk had moved from ‘Medium’ to ‘High’.

Kirsten highlighted this was a potential worry of hers, “There is a bit of a worry… where do you stand job-wise, will I still have a job in the coming months? With it coming up to Christmas that’s a bit of a worry in hospitality.”

The only real changes Kirsten has had to face recently is not in her professional life but her social one. “My work is how I socialise at the moment, I’m already bringing back risk by being at the workplace, I don’t want to add to it by going out and doing extra things.”

Interviews with the two baristas,

These worries are shared nationwide by people in customer-facing jobs, especially those working in an independent hospitality establishment. Lawrence is currently working in Leeds as a Barista.

Leeds is currently situated in Tier 2 of the system however it is becoming one of the most high-risk areas in the country as most of the cities 70,000 students are returning for university from all over the country.

Tier 2 means that pubs and bars must close at 10 pm still and also enforces the rule of six. The only difference is that it is illegal to mingle with other households inside, and it is heavily advised that you also do not mingle outside with people from other houses.

However, there were a lot of differences in the experience of Kirsten and Lawrence, the main one being that it seemed like fewer people were interested in leaving the house for unnecessary trips.

He told me, “It’s changed a bit, to be honest, I think people are a bit more scared as it’s a high-risk area” he added that he was “Worried it could potentially change to Tier 3 (overnight) and I could potentially lose my job.”

If an area is placed into Tier 3, it means that pubs that are not serving meals will be forced to close. There is also guidance on traveling in and out of these areas, in effect these areas are in ‘Lockdown’.

Like Kirsten, his work life has now become his sole social interaction outside of his own home for similar reasons. So does that show that the local tier system is working effectively? Or will we see the Government do another U-turn on their plans?

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