Tier 3: The Areas That Could Face The Toughest Covid Rules

Lockdown in England is ending on December 2 and the country is heading back into the three-tier system. Here's what that could mean for you.

When England’s coronavirus lockdown ends on December 2, a revised – and tougher – version of the three-tier system of restrictions will be rolled out, the prime minister announced earlier this week.

This beefed-up tier system will last until the spring, with the level of restrictions in each area reviewed every two weeks.

In a change to rules before England’s second lockdown, ministers have said that decisions on tiers will be primarily based on five key indicators.

These include:

  • Case detection rates in all age groups

  • Case detection rates in the over-60s

  • The rate at which cases are rising or falling

  • Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)

  • Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy

The government is expected to announce on Thursday which areas will be placed into each tier of restrictions.

But analysis of data already available could point to the regions set to go into the strictest rules next week. Here’s what we found.

Number of new coronavirus cases in each region

In the week leading up to November 22, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Staffordshire topped the table of areas with the highest rates of coronavirus.

Areas with the highest case rates in the week to 22 November:

  1. West Yorkshire (Met County) with 316 cases per 100k
  2. West Midlands (Met County) with 311 cases per 100k
  3. Staffordshire with 308 cases per 100k
  4. City of Bristol with 297 cases per 100k
  5. Tyne and Wear (Met County) with 288 cases per 100k
  6. East Riding of Yorkshire with 273 cases per 100k
  7. Greater Manchester (Met County) with 262 cases per 100k
  8. County Durham with 261 cases per 100k
  9. Leicestershire with 261 cases per 100k
  10. Kent with 261 cases per 100k
  11. Lincolnshire with 258 cases per 100k
  12. South Yorkshire (Met County) with 231 cases per 100k

Out of the top 12, only Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire had been in tier 3 before the national lockdown.

How are the number of cases changing in each area?

It’s not just the number of cases in each area that will be important when ministers decide levels of restrictions – whether this figure is on the increase or decrease will also be key.

Want to know if the relative number of coronavirus cases in your area are rising or falling? Use the searchable table to find out what’s happening in your local authority.

In the areas with the highest rates of infection, the number of cases is on the decline

Despite having the highest infection rates in the country, all of the regions in the top 12 saw a decline in the infection rate compared to the previous week.

The R rate

Ministers have said that the R rate – otherwise known as the reproduction rate – of the virus will also play a key part in determining the level of restrictions in each area.

Generally, if the R rate is above 1, it means that the epidemic is growing. For example, an R rate of 1.4 would mean that every 10 people with the virus would go on to infect 14 more people.

However, if the R rate is less than 1, the epidemic is shrinking.

Data analysis revealed that the south-east of England had the highest R rate in the country, as of November 20, with a reproduction rate of between 1.1 and 1.3.

Number of coronavirus cases in the over-60s

Another of the five factors ministers will consider when deciding the level of restrictions in each area is the number of Covid-19 cases in people over the age of 60, who are at an elevated risk from the virus.

The table shows the total number of people tested from November 5 to November 11, the latest available data.

According to the latest government data, the national rate of over-60s testing positive was 2%.

The searchable table allows you to find the number of people over 60 testing positive for Covid-19 in all areas that were above the national average of 2%.

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