Coronavirus: The 5 rules that will decide if your area will change tiers next week

Connor Parker
·4-min read
London is at risk of being moved up to Tier as infection rates in the capital have been rising. (Getty)
London is at risk of being moved up to Tier 3 as infection rates in the capital have been rising. (Getty)

With infection rates rising sharply in London there has been speculation about which areas of England will see a move in their tier restrictions at the first review next week.

The rise and decrease in infection rates are varied across England, but as the data about the first week after lockdown trickles in its is clear some areas are doing better than others.

When England left national lockdown, the government put the country back into an enhanced tier system and said they would be reviewed every two weeks, with the first update on 16 December.

Last week just 21 out of a total of 315 local authority areas had recorded a week-on-week jump in rates. Now 126 local authority areas have registered an increase.

Watch: COVID-19: Mayor Sadiq Khan warns London could move to Tier 3 if rules are not followed

Read more: The three groups of people advised not to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine

The government has said infection rates are just one of the five criteria they will look at when determining if an area should move up or down a tier.

The other four are:

  • Infection rates in over-60s, this has been a key indicator of when the government viewed the situation as deteriorating due to the elderly suffering worse from coronavirus and often needing more hospital attention.

  • Pressure on the NHS, the government has made ensuring the healthcare system of local areas will not be overwhelmed a key measure of the pandemic.

  • The positivity rate, this is the percentage of people testing positive out of all tests taken, this can provide an indication of how prevalent the pandemic is in the community – even if only a relatively few number of tests have been taken.

  • The trajectory of an increase or decrease, if there were relatively few cases in an area, but they were doubling every three days then the government would try and act to slow down the spike before it gets out of control.

It is a mixed picture across England when it comes to where may move up and down a tier.

Most of the areas in the North that recorded high coronavirus numbers during the peak of the second wave are now seeing a steady decline in cases.

Large parts of the North are under Tier 3, but as their numbers have declined they have started to look equal to some places under Tier 2.

Read more

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

Areas of central England also appear to be declining, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire have all see their infection rates per 100,00 decline below Liverpool’s which is currently in Tier 2.

The trio were all put into Tier 3 at the end of lockdown, leading to Staffordshire council attempting to sue the government claiming it had been unfairly grouped with areas with higher infections.

The pandemic seems to be gaining traction in the South and East of England, with 35 out of the 45 local authorities in the east recording a rise in numbers.

Kent, which locals initially reacted angrily to being put under Tier 3, is now one of the worst-hit areas of the country.

All areas of the county are recording rises in infection rates, with Swale recording the highest in the country at 620 cases per 100,000.

More than 99% of England was put under Tier 2 and Tier 3 when the country left lockdown at the start of December.

Tier 2 looks a lot like the old Tier 3, which sees household visits banned and pubs and bars forced to close unless they sell substantial meals.

Tier 3 is closer to a full lockdown with pubs and restaurants forced to close and tight measures on who can meet up and where.

Shops, barbers, nail bars, and other beauty services have been allowed to reopen across all tiers, as have gyms.

The situation in London is also looking difficult and Sadiq Khan has urged people to follow the rules, saying Tier 3 “is in nobody’s interest”.

In the capital, 23 of the 32 areas have seen rises in their coronavirus numbers in recent days, with Havering recording the highest at 346 cases per 100,000.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, told the Telegraph that the tier allocation for London may have to be reconsidered.

Prof Hunter said: “There were more cases at the end of lockdown than at the start in London.”

Dr Mark Ansell, Havering Council’s director of public health, said the national lockdown had a “very minor and short-lived impact” on transmission in the borough.

“Our rates were 379 per 100,000 yesterday, so that is double the London average, which itself is higher than the England average,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“So, very much aware of the seriousness of our situation.”

Dr Ansell said he believed Tier 3 would drive infection rates down.

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?