What you need to know about the new tiers in England

At the end of the second national lockdown on December 2, a stricter system will be introduced in England, placing 99% of the country in the top two levels of restrictions.

But when are the constraints reviewed and what is taken into account when determining the level of an area?

– How many people are faced with severe disabilities?

More than 55 million people will be placed in Tier 2 and Tier 3 measures on December 2, meaning that indoor household mixing will be effectively banned for the vast majority of the country.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – accounting for just over 1% of the UK population – face the lightest Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions.

Large areas of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, which accounts for 41.5% of the population, or 23.3 million people.

The majority of authorities – including London – will be in Tier 2, which will cover 57.3% of the country or 32 million people.

– What are the main indicators that will determine the limitations in each area in the first place?

Five factors are considered:

– detection rates of cases in all age groups;

– the number of cases of detection in the over-60s;

– the speed at which cases rise or fall;

– the positivity rate – the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of the tests administered;

– and pressure on the NHS, including current and forecast occupancy.

Downing Street has declined to provide further details on the indicators or any estimate of the thresholds.

– Why are there no rigid thresholds?

The government has said it should maintain flexibility to weigh the indicators – for example, whether hospital capacity in neighboring areas is lower.

Another example provided in the Coronavirus Winter Plan is that the detection rates of cases must be weighed against whether the spread of the virus is localized in particular communities.

The plan states “given these sensitivities, it is not possible to set rigid thresholds for these indicators as this would lead to worse decisions”.

– When can changes be made to the level system?

The first assessment of the levels is scheduled for December 16.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a briefing in Downing Street that the allocation of levels will be revised every 14 days from that date, and suggested that massive testing could exempt households from restrictions.

He said, “Now testing on this scale has not been attempted, but over time, if it works, where people test negative, it may also be possible that families and communities will be released from certain restrictions, even if their home area is in level 3. remains. “

Former Secretary of State Tobias Ellwood said the government should use up-to-date data to make decisions about the new restrictions. He noted that the information used to line up different areas would be over a week old by the time they are imposed.

He also called for outlining the criteria and justification for the level system so that people “better understand” what it takes to get out of a more difficult level.

He told BBC Breakfast Friday, “I think clarity in communication is so important right now.”

– What are the chances that regions will come out of a strict restriction level by Christmas?

Community Secretary Robert Jenrick insists there is “every reason” to expect some areas to be moved to a lower level by December 16.

He said the government, advised by the experts, would look to any area of ​​the local authorities to see if there are any options for movement.

He told Sky News, “There were some places with very balanced judgments where they were on the brink of different levels. Those are the places that are likely to be in that position. “

In contrast, Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage), warned “that it is a fairly early time to see the effect.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program, “I can’t imagine any major changes happening at that point, simply because I don’t think we have collected much data by then.”