New Tiers system: London and Liverpool in Tier 2 but Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham Tier 3

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LONDON and Liverpool will go into Tier 2 next week and Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle into Tier 3, it has been confirmed today.

There are 31 in the highest level, 38 areas in the middle Tier 2, and just three parts of England will be under the lowest level of restrictions.

London and Liverpool – with most of England – will be in Tier 2 next week
Matt Hancock revealed the Tiers news in the Commons today
The Government’s postcode checker crashed this morning

More than 99 per cent of the country will be in the top two tiers – and just the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the lowers Tier 1 – a total of 700,000 people.

Some 32 million people in England – just over 56 per cent of the population – will be in Tier 2, and nearly 42 per cent (23 million people) in Tier 3.

The Government’s postcode checker crashed this morning as thousands of people tried to see what their new tiers would be.

Matt Hancock unveiled the new tiers this morning in the House of Commons – confirming the ‘stay at home’ order will end, and shops, gyms and personal care will reopen.

Mr Hancock said this morning: “We cannot simply flick a switch and try to return to life straight back to normal.

“If we did this we would undo the hard work of so many and see the NHS overwhelmed.”

The Rule of Six and 10pm curfew will return, too.

The new toughened up lockdown tiers are due to come into effect next Wednesday, when England’s month-long national lockdown ends.

Tier 2 allow pubs and restaurants to remain open, but they must serve a substantial meal and different households can only mix outside.

The news comes as:

  • Boris Johnson will give a press conference at 5pm
  • The new system is expected to be in place until the spring – with a limited relaxing of rules at Christmas
  • Ministers tried to reassure concerned MPs last night restrictions could be eased in time for Christmas when tiers are reviewed after two weeks – on December 16
  • These are all the first football matches which will take place when fans come back in stadiums next week
  • Manchester United will be banned from fan return in Tier 3 but Arsenal and Chelsea can have 2,000 in next week for first time in 9 months
  • The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has fallen week on week for the first time since the summer

Liverpool is being hailed as a success story after mass testing by the Army helped bring infection rates down to 162 per 100,000 people from 700 five weeks ago.

It will go down from Tier 3 into Tier 2 and provide a model for others to get out of the top tier too.

Mr Hancock heaped praise on the city, saying they showed “impressive leadership” locally.

He added: “This shows what we can do when we work together.”

Areas in Tier 3 will get access to new rapid-result tests for everyone which give tests in under an hour, a strategy which has seen Liverpool’s cases drop drastically.

It appears the threshold for an area going into Tier 3 is a combination of a higher pressure on the NHS, alongside a rate of more than 200 cases per 100,000 for the over 60s.

The Government said Manchester’s rate, although it had improved, was still too high. Weekly cases for those over 60 are still 260 per 100,000, and there is still pressure on the main city hospitals.

The Mayor Andy Burnham said he was “not surprised” the region would be placed into Tier 3, but said he would be making the “strongest possible arguments” for it to be moved down to Tier 2 in a fortnight if good progress continues.

All areas in Tier 3 – including South Yorkshire, the Humber, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire – are seeing high pressures on the NHS and rates of over 200 cases per 100,000.

ECONOMIC HIT

Ministers tried to reassure concerned MPs last night restrictions could be eased in time for Christmas when tiers are reviewed after two weeks – on December 16.

Hospitality bosses warned three quarters of pubs, restaurants and cafes could go bust if the capital isn’t placed into the lowest tier.

MPs have demanded a cost-benefit analsysis of the Tiers system – and a clear strategy for how to get out of it.

The newly tougher Tier 3 means pubs, restaurants and cafes have to shut – along with indoor entertainment.

People can’t mix between households, either.

Boris Johnson has already admitted that more places will have to go into the top tier after the lockdown ends next week.

Mr Johnson has said the allocation is based on “common sense” with a number of metrics used to decide how strongly to restrict areas.

These include case detection rates in the over 60s, the rate at which cases are falling or rising, pressure on the NHS and case detection rates in all age groups.

The number of positive cases found in a percentage of tests taken in certain areas will also come into consideration.

There are fears that most of the country could be put in Tier 2 or 3 – effectively banning people from seeing family and friends indoors until the spring.

Manchester is likely to go back into the top Tier, Andy Burnham said on Wednesday

Andy Burnham speaking at a previous press conference

Andy Burnham said he expects to go into the top Tier again

Tories are already rounding on ministers to demand their areas stay out of the top level of restrictions.

They are demanding a cost benefit analysis and reams of data to back up the theory that the stricter rules will help bring down infections.

On Wednesday, the PM promised he would fulfil their wishes and give them information on why the Tiers system was working.

The rules will be relaxed for Christmas – with people in the UK allowed to form a bubble of up to three households.

They won’t have to social distance, and will be able to travel between tiers.

The PM said, 'The virus doesn't know it's Christmas and we must all be careful'

Boris Johnson virtually taking part in PMQs today as he is still isolating

Boris has said the Tier decisions will be based on common sense