A fifth of England will be living under a Tier 3 lockdown by next week as coronavirus cases soar.
As Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire join the list today and Monday, 11million people will be under the toughest rules – which shut bars and pubs unless they can operate as a restaurant, and impose restrictions on travel and gatherings.
Another 3.6million people in 16 parts of the country are entering Tier 2 – which bans meetings between different households indoors – from midnight tonight.
In total 32.6million people will be under Tier 2 or 3 rules – creating what critics brand a semi-national lockdown by stealth.
But scientists warn the current expansion of Tier 3 will still not be enough. New data today estimates 568,000 people in England had Covid-19 during the week to October 23 – 1 in 100 people.
Tory ministers are refusing calls to impose a full-blown national lockdown like in France.
But they are considering moving many more areas into Tier 3 – and have not ruled out a new, even stricter Tier 4.
According to reports, No10 is considering a Tier 4 in which only schools and essential shops remain open. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to rule out the drastic plan today.
He told the BBC: “We’re always ready for further measures that we can take. But I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track we’re on of targeting the virus.”
Meanwhile, parts of the North East could be moved up into Tier 3 as soon as today, while the West Midlands and London – together covering 11.9million people – expect to go into Tier 3 in the next couple of weeks.
Tier 3 rules mean pubs must shut unless they can operate as a restaurant – and only serve booze with ‘substantial’ meals.
People are banned from gathering with others not in their household or bubble, either indoors, in gardens, or beer gardens.
Residents are advised not to travel in or out of a Tier 3 area – and if they do leave, must behave as if they’re still in it.
So what are the tier changes this week, and where is on the move? Here’s an overview.
Tier 3 – confirmed
Warrington (since Tuesday 27 October)
Warrington became the fifth area of England to join Tier 3, with pubs and bars forced to shut in the town of 210,000 people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said agreement had been made to move Warrington to the highest alert level as infection rates had surged to among the highest in the country.
Case rates were at 361 people per 100,000 among all age groups, with infections among the over 60s rising by 20% in a week to 217 per 100,000 people.
Alongside the usual Tier 3 rules, betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres and areas must also shut.
Nottinghamshire (from Friday 30 October)
As of today another 1.2million people in England have been plunged into Tier 3, the sixth region to do so.
All eight boroughs of Nottinghamshire, including the city of Nottingham, have been slapped with by far the strictest restrictions of any Tier 3 region in England.
As well as standard Tier 3 rules, local leaders agreed a long menu of ‘a la carte’ measures not yet seen anywhere else.
Shisha and other “shared smoking equipment” will be banned in hospitality venues. Nail bars, saunas, tattoo and piercing parlours, and tanning salons must shut, alongside betting shops, car boot sales and auction houses. All shops are banned from selling alcohol for drinking off the premises after 9pm.
All indoor entertainment and tourism venues must close except for ice rinks, cinemas, concert halls, theatres, and hotels and other accommodation.
Gyms and leisure centres can remain open but it is “strongly advised” that group exercise or dance classes do not take place. And hairdresser and barbers can remain open but cannot carry out any “personal care” work, such as brows.
West Yorkshire (from Monday 2 November)
The region of 2.3million people – Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield – will plunge into Tier 3 from 12.01am Monday.
Alongside standard Tier 3 rules, casinos, betting shops, soft play, and adult gaming centres must close. Car boot sales are banned.
Shisha and other shared smoking is banned, and leisure centres can remain open but it is “strongly advised” that exercise, dance or fitness classes don’t take place indoors.
Talks over West Yorkshire’s status dragged on for days as Tory ministers held out on financial support for stricken businesses.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority said the government had agreed a package worth £59.3m, but it was not enough and they’ll simply have to go back for more at some point.
Other areas already in Tier 3
- South Yorkshire (since Saturday 24 October)
- Greater Manchester (since Friday 23 October)
- Lancashire (since Saturday 17 October)
- Liverpool City Region (since Wednesday 14 October)
Tier 2, but could soon enter Tier 3
Talks have been on and off for weeks in a region of 2.7million people including both Tyneside and the Tees Valley.
They are said to be nearing a conclusion in five boroughs of Teesside covering just over half a million people. Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Darlington could have an announcement on Friday night, Teesside Live reports.
Tier 3 talks were paused last week after infection rates fell, but Robert Jenrick then emailed local leaders to resume them.
Local sources said there had been some official-level meetings on health data but no heavy political involvement yet.
And some leaders in the region have said they’re ready to fight back if there is any push to move into Tier 3.
No formal talks are under way with the government.
But leaders believe Tier 3 could be imposed on the region “by the end of next week or the start of the following week”.
Focus would expect to fall on 2.9million people in the seven boroughs of the region’s Combined Authority – Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Coventry.
But it might go beyond those seven areas into the wider West Midlands; or some of the seven areas might be spared.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said “the situation is becoming very serious and if further measures are to be avoided we must bring the rate of infection down”.
He said hospitals were coming under intense pressure as cases continued to rise, more people are dying and the virus is spreading again in the elderly and vulnerable.
No formal talks are under way with the government.
But London leaders believe the capital faces a Tier 3 lockdown in just two weeks as coronavirus cases soar.
Allies of mayor Sadiq Khan said it is “very likely” the capital of 9million people will be plunged into the tightest restrictions in a fortnight.
Local leaders say it’s too early to know for sure as they have to see if Tier 2 works first.
But one predicted: “The way things are looking – cases going up, hospitalisations going up – it looks very likely London could be going into Tier 3 in a couple of weeks’ time.”
A study by Imperial College London from October 16-25 estimated ‘R’ was 2.86 in London – far higher than the official figure.
New areas in Tier 2 (from Saturday 31 October)
Sweeping changes will add 3.6million people to Tier 2 for the first time from midnight tonight.
Tier 2 rules ban people meeting anyone not from their household or bubble in any indoor setting – including homes or pubs.
People can continue to meet in gardens or beer gardens in line with the rule of six.
But they should reduce the number of journeys they made “where possible”.
The list of new areas going into Tier 2 from 12.01am on Saturday is:
- Yorkshire and the Humber: East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire;
- West Midlands: Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford and the Wrekin;
- East Midlands: Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak; Charnwood;
- East of England: Luton;
- South East: Oxford City.
Areas already in Tier 2
Use the search tool above or visit the government’s website to see the full list.
… And the rest
Bristol’s mayor has announced the city is effectively in ‘Tier 1 plus’, but this is not an official status.
It’s simply a phrase coined by local leaders in the city to describe a few local measures and urge residents to be on their guard.