As England’s four week long period of lockdown comes to an end this week, the country is preparing to switch back to a revised version of its regional tiered system, beginning on 2 December.
Different areas will be under different levels of restriction, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that 99 per cent of England is initially slated to be in Tier 2 or Tier 3.
But this could change prior to Christmas, according to a graph released by Public Health England, showing which areas are nearest the thresholds which would allow them to either move up or down a tier.
There are five main factors which determine the restrictions in place in each area. These are:
case detection rate for all agescase detection rate for over 60sthe rate cases are rising or fallingpercentage of tests taken which are positivepressure on the NHS, primarily occupancy
Which areas could change tier?
Going by the above criteria, the following areas are most likely to change tiers before Christmas, according to the latest data:
The Isle of Wight is currently in Tier 1, and is the closest area in that tier to the threshold for Tier 2 restrictions.
In Tier 2, Suffolk is the lowest, and so mostly likely to drop into Tier 1 before Christmas. Norfolk, Rutland, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire are also close to the Tier 2 threshold, as well as Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire.
Going the other way, there are a handful of areas currently in Tier 2 which are at risk of moving into Tier 3. These are Cheshire, North Yorkshire and Shropshire.
Of the areas currently in Tier 3, those with the greatest chance of dropping down into Tier 2 are Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Kent, though the next lowest are Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
The first review of the revised tier system will take place on 16 December.
Are tier changes realistic before Christmas?
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said that areas could well change tiers before Christmas.
He said, “There will be a review point every 14 days - so on the 16 or 17 December there will be an opportunity for those parts of the country where the judgment was finely balanced to potentially de-escalate from Tier 3 to Tier 2, and Tier 2 to Tier 1.”
Also speaking to Today, Prof John Edmunds, a member of the SAGE advisory committee, said he thinks it is unlikely that any areas will change Tier before Christmas.
He commented, “I think that is quite an early time to be able to see what the effect has been. For me I think that is quite an early review stage. I can’t imagine there will be huge changes at that point just simply because I don’t think we will have accumulated much data by then.”