Coronavirus UK map projects which areas likely to become hotspots in coming days

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: A social distancing sign is affixed next to a pedestrian crossing on October 08, 2020 in Liverpool, England. It has been reported that a three-tier lockdown system, similar to a traffic light system is being contemplated by the British government to simplify coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown measures. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The government is said to be considering a three-tier 'traffic light' system to simplify coronavirus lockdown measures(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Plans to shut pubs and restaurants in larger parts of northern England to bring down soaring coronavirus rates have been agreed, according to reports.

The government said on Friday it was still considering what action to take, but Cabinet member Robert Jenrick warned of a “fast and serious situation” in the north, with COVID-19 rates spiking in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

An interactive map which projects which areas likely to become COVID hotspots in coming days showed on Friday that there were no areas in England where case numbers are decreasing.

The website, run by Imperial College London, uses reported cases to estimate the probability of different regions becoming hotspots. A hotspot is defined as an area where weekly reported cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population exceed 50.

The number of infections in England nearly doubled in a week to 224,000 by Friday.

Pedestrians, many wearing protective face coverings to combat the spread of coronavirus covid-19 walk through central Nottingham in central England on October 9, 2020. - Pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots look set to face fresh restrictions after Downing Street said new data suggests there is "significant" transmission taking place in hospitality settings. A "range of measures" is being looked at, with a particular focus on northern England, where it says infection rates are rising fastest. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Nottingham continues to have the highest rate of coronavirus infections in England (Oli Scarff / AFP)

While the north of England is home to the most areas that have rising case rates, numbers can be seen to be increasing across the country.

Nottingham continues to have the highest rate in England, with 2,532 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 6 – the equivalent of 760.6 cases per 100,000 people, a huge jump from 158.3 per 100,000 in the seven days to September 29.

Knowsley on Merseyside has the second highest rate, which has leapt from 391.1 to 657.6, with 992 new cases.

Neighbouring Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has also increased sharply, from 419.0 to 599.9 with 2,988 new cases.

The interactive map projects coronavirus hotspots (Imperial College)
The interactive map projects coronavirus hotspots - the most affected are highlighted in red (Imperial College)
A man disinfects a statue of the Beatles amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Liverpool, Britain October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine REFILE - CORRECTING CITY IN HEADLINE
A statue commemorating the Beatles is disinfected in Liverpool amid a fresh outbreak of coronavirus (REUTERS/Carl Recine)

Other areas recording big jumps in their seven-day rates include Manchester (up from 421.6 to 524.7, with 2,901 new cases); Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 355.7 to 516.1, with 1,563 new cases); Exeter (up from 79.9 to 438.3, with 576 new cases); and Sheffield (up from 171.2 to 426.8, with 2,496 new cases).

So while rates are rising at a more rapid rate in the north, the south and south east are now seeing worrying upward trends too.

A graphic published by ONS on Friday showed the rate of increase in infections by region in England.

While areas in the north dominated the most dramatic increases, cases across the country could be seen to be rising.

The ONS graphic illustrates the scale of infection rate rises broken down by regions (ONS)
The ONS graphic illustrates the scale of infection rate rises broken down by regions (ONS)

What is being proposed?

According to reports, England could be divided into three tiers.

Tier one regions would continue with the existing rule of six and social distancing laws, while those in tier two would also have a ban on households mixing at home. In these areas, pubs have to shut at 10pm.

Tier three areas could have those restrictions, but with pubs and restaurants having to close indefinitely.

The interactive map projects coronavirus hotspots (Imperial College)
Areas highlighted in pink have increasing numbers of coronavirus infections. Green would denote decreasing numbers, but on Friday not one area was green (Imperial College)

Where could the hospitality ban be brought in?

It is likely that pubs and restaurants would be shuttered across large parts of the north of England, where COVID-19 rates are continuing to cause alarm.

Of the ten areas with the highest rates per 100,000 people, only Nottingham is outside the north of England. Six of the top ten are in the North West.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07: A pandemic lockdown warning sign is displayed to shoppers on October 07, 2020 in Manchester, England. Manchester now has the highest coronavirus (Covid-19) infection rate in the country, with nearly 600 cases per 100,000 people. Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University have also now moved all lectures online with many students quarantined in their residential halls. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A pandemic lockdown warning sign is displayed to shoppers in Manchester. The city now has the highest coronavirus infection rate in England, with nearly 600 cases per 100,000 people. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

What’s happened in Scotland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that from Friday most bars, restaurants and cafes will be banned from selling alcohol, for more than two weeks. However, she ruled out a ‘circuit breaker’ blanket lockdown for the country, promising that schools and public transport would stay open.

Why is it thought necessary?

The government is still considering plans and listening to medical and scientific experts, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said a “significant proportion of exposure to the virus” came from the hospitality sector, where younger people gather.

Watch: Coronavirus: Five of Europe's top COVID-19 hotspots are in the north of England

Does everyone agree?

Labour politicians in the north of England have reacted with anger to the leaked proposals, saying they have been floated in the media with no regional consultation, and they have stressed the need for support for the hospitality industry.

Do all the Conservative MPs agree with the plans?

Some rebels are unhappy with the 10pm closing time which is currently in place, apart from in Northern Ireland, saying it is counterproductive as drinkers all leave at the same time, and damaging to the night-time economy.

Others have said there should be a Commons debate before more restrictions are brought in.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also said 10pm closing was not working.

The issue will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday.

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