Which tier am I in? Use our postcode checker for the latest Covid rules
Manchester, Birmingham, Hull, Newcastle and swathes of the North are set to face the toughest coronavirus restrictions under new tiers just announced, with only three areas – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly – placed into the lowest Tier 1 category.
London will enter Tier 2 along with Liverpool when the national lockdown lifts next week.
Other areas placed in to the highest of the Government’s three tiers – either "medium" (Tier 1), "high" (Tier 2) or "very high" (Tier 3) – include Birmingham, Bristol, Kent, Yorkshire and the North East. MPs are expected to rebel over the plans when they are voted on next Tuesday, December 1.
The official local lockdown map is based on the number of cases in each area, particularly among people aged over 60, as well as regional pressures on the NHS and testing.
On the evening of November 26, the day the new measures were announced, the Prime Minister said that the tier your area falls under is “not your destiny” and that things will be a lot better by April.
He went on to warn the public not to “take our foot off the throat of the beast now”.
How many people face severe tier restrictions?
More than 23 million people in England, which is 41.5 per cent of the population, will face the highest tier restrictions once the national lockdown expires after December 2.
This total is constructed of 119 local authority areas, among which Birmingham has the largest population, with 1.1 million people. Meanwhile, Melton in Leicestershire has the smallest population, with 51,200 people.
A further 32.2 million people, 57.3pc of the population, will enter Tier 2 once the current lockdown ends.
How does the level of infection differ between tiers?
Among the 119 locations set to enter Tier 3, only eight are currently showing signs that their Covid-19 cases are rising. Seven of these are located in South East England: Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, Gravesham, Maidstone, Medway, Tonbridge & Malling, and Tunbridge Wells. However, the eighth is Hyndburn in the North West.
While London has fallen into Tier 2, the area of Havering has the highest rate in the tier, and it is higher than 92 of the 119 regions in the higher bracket of Tier 3.
Despite this, the different placement of other neighbouring areas around the country do not fit the pattern of the current case rates. An example of this is seen in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, which will enter Tier 3, which has a rate of 117.9. This is lower than the rate in the adjoining area of East Sussex which has a rate of 161, which has been placed in Tier 2.
The area of South Hams in Devon currently has the lowest rate in the entire county; however, it will enter Tier 2, instead of the lowest tier on December 2.
Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?
Areas in Tier 3 (very high alert) will include:
- Tees Valley Combined Authority: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington
- North East Combined Authority: Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, County Durham, Northumberland
- Greater Manchester
- Blackburn with Darwen
Yorkshire and The Humber
- The Humber
- West Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire
- Birmingham and Black Country
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
- Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
- Derby and Derbyshire
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
- Leicester and Leicestershire
- Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
- Kent and Medway
- South Gloucestershire
- North Somerset
Change in lockdown tiers either side of national lockdown
Areas in Tier 2 (high alert) will include:
- Liverpool City Region
- Warrington and Cheshire
- North Yorkshire
- West Midlands
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
East of England
- Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
- Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
- Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
- All 32 boroughs plus the City of London
- East Sussex
- West Sussex
- Brighton and Hove
- Bracknell Forest
- Windsor and Maidenhead
- West Berkshire
- Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
- South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Wiltshire and Swindon
Areas in Tier 1 (medium alert) will include:
- Isle of Wight
- South West
- Isles of Scilly
What are the new rules and how long will they last?
The new Covid Winter Plan brings an end to England’s stay-at-home order, and allows for the reopening of shops, gyms, personal care and the leisure sector.
Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume and people will be no longer limited to seeing one other person outdoors, as the rule of six returns once more.
Hospitality can reopen in the two lowest tiers, with the 10pm curfew tweaked into a 10pm last orders. In tier three, sales are restricted to takeaways and delivery.
These tiers will remain in place until March at the earliest; however, the placement of each area in each tier will be reviewed every two weeks.
In a press briefing on November 26, the Prime Minister explained how the stricter tier system would “strike a balance” and that every area has a “means of escape” and the potential to move down a tier.
New Covid-19 tier restrictions – What’s changing and what’s not
Tier 1 lockdown rules
Tier 2 lockdown rules
Tier 3 lockdown rules
How are the tiers decided?
Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors:
Case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, among the over- 60s);
- How quickly case rates are rising or falling;
- Positivity in the general population;
- Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity – including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences; and
- Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.
If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.
Can I see family and friends at Christmas?
Families will be able to stay together and form a “Christmas bubble” from Dec 23 to Dec 27.
Travel restrictions are also being lifted, allowing people to visit families in other parts of the UK.
In particular Northern Ireland has negotiated a seven-day suspension of the Christmas rules to help people who need to catch flights or ferries to the mainland. It will run from Dec 22 to Dec 28.
The nation has just announced a circuit breaker lockdown which will begin just one week after its last lockdown expired. These rules will start on Nov 27 and will see the closure of all non-essential businesses, among other restrictions across the entire country.
Meanwhile Scotland has imposed a country-wide travel ban and imposed Tier 4 restrictions across 11 of its central and western areas, including Glasgow. These restrictions will remain in place until Dec 11.
Wales has emerged from its ‘fire break’ lockdown, and non-essential businesses have reopened.
When will tiers be reviewed?
The first review point for the current tier allocations will take place by Wednesday 16 December.
This allows for the possibility of areas which continue to make progress in slowing the spread of the disease to be moved down a tier in advance of Christmas.
What about the rest of the UK?
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said rules allowing people to meet up at Christmas are likely to be tightened when they are set out on Thursday.
She said: "The expectation should be that the guidance will probably look to tighten around the edges rather than further expand and that will be true with the travel window of opportunity as well – we want to limit that window, not expand it."
The Welsh Cabinet is also expected to meet to decide whether further restrictions similar to the English tier system will be needed before Christmas, although a decision is not likely to be announced until Friday.
In Northern Ireland, tougher lockdown restrictions will be introduced from Friday, with pubs, restaurants, non-essential retail and close contact services to close for a fortnight.