Press release: Government tiers review update

Press release: Government tiers review update

  • From the beginning of 26 December, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and most of Hampshire to be escalated to Tier 4, Cheshire and Northamptonshire escalated to Tier 3, and Cornwall and Herefordshire escalated to Tier 2
  • Latest data confirms rapid case rises are strongly linked to the new strain of coronavirus

After careful consideration of the latest data, the following local authority areas will move to Tier 4: Stay at Home from the beginning of 26 December:

  • Brighton and Hove
  • Cambridgeshire
  • remaining parts of East Sussex not already in Tier 4 (Eastbourne Borough Council, Lewes District Council and Wealden District Council)
  • remaining parts of Essex not already in Tier 4 (Colchester Borough, Tendring District, and Uttlesford District Councils)
  • Hampshire (Basingstoke and Deane Borough, East Hampshire District, Eastleigh Borough, Fareham Borough, Hart District, Rushmoor Borough, Test Valley Borough, Winchester City Councils)
  • Norfolk
  • Oxfordshire
  • Southampton
  • Suffolk
  • Waverley Borough
  • West Sussex

The following local authority areas will move to Tier 3: Very High:

  • Bristol
  • Cheshire East
  • Cheshire West and Chester
  • Gloucestershire
  • Isle of Wight
  • New Forest District
  • North Somerset
  • Northamptonshire
  • Somerset
  • Swindon
  • Warrington

The following local authority areas will move from Tier 1: Medium to Tier 2: High:

The latest analysis shows a strong correlation between areas with the most rapid rise of cases and prevalence of the new strain of COVID-19. The government has decided to act ahead of the formal review point, in order to contain the spread of this new and more transmissible strain.

Since the end of national restrictions, the situation in the South and East of England has deteriorated. New cases have continued to rise and hospital admissions have increased. Without urgent action this trend would continue at an increasingly rapid rate, leading to a rise in hospital admissions and deaths in the following 2 weeks and hitting the NHS at its busiest time of year.

New data suggests that the increasing speed of transmission in London, the South East and East of England is being driven by the new variant of the virus. There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate, or that it affects vaccines and treatments, but the latest NERVTAG analysis continues to indicate that the variant is more transmissible than other strains.

Between 9 and 16 December in the East of England the weekly case rate rose sharply to 380 per 100,000 a 100% increase on the previous week. Rates in the South East have increased to 349 per 100,000 a 77% increase on the previous week. Rates in the South West have increased to 123 per 100,000 a 46% rise on the previous week.

All available data has been assessed by the Government, including the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace including the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), Public Health England (PHE), the Chief Medical Officer and the Cabinet Office.

As confirmed on Monday 21 December, all clinically extremely vulnerable individuals will be asked to shield if they reside in Tier 4 areas. People living in the additional Tier 4 areas announced today will be sent a letter or email with advice and details of support. In the meantime they should follow the shielding advice set out on GOV.UK.

Tier 3 and 4 areas will continue to be prioritised for community lateral flow testing, with over 100 local authorities now having signed up to the enhanced testing support programme, and some Tier 2 areas also eligible. More than 2 million tests have already been deployed to over 100 local authorities to start community testing through the Directors of Public Health programme. Scientists at PHE Porton Down have confirmed that Lateral Flow Device tests can successfully detect the new variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Data assessed includes how quickly case rates are going up or down, cases in the over 60s, pressure on the NHS and local circumstances. Where regions are densely populated with lots of people travelling between areas, tiers must be targeted at the appropriate level to protect people and control transmission.

The next formal review of tiering decisions will take place by 30 December. The government keeps the data under constant review and will take immediate action to protect local communities.

Full details on all of todays changes


A novel variant of SARS-CoV-2 is circulating in England. The strain shows apparent increased transmissibility. There is currently no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality, but this is still under investigation. As of 20 December 2020, 144 lower-tier local authorities have identified at least 1 case genomically, although the vast majority of cases identified are in London, the South East and the East of England.

The evidence shows that infection rates in geographical areas where this particular variant has been circulating have increased faster than expected, and the modelling evidence has demonstrated that this variant has a higher transmission rate than other variants in current circulation. Speed of case rate growth is closely correlated with presence of the new variant.

East Midlands

Area Narrative
(Tier 3: Very High)
In the past week the picture in Northamptonshire has deteriorated, with case rates in all ages broadly increasing across the area. South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough, Kettering and Daventry are local authorities of particular concern, with cases rates increasing between 60% and 80% in these areas from the previous week. The number of daily COVID hospital admissions in the local NHS (Northamptonshire STP) has stabilised in the last 14 days. The daily COVID bed occupancy is above the national acute hospital average but has stabilised. Three local authorities in the area (East Northamptonshire, South Northamptonshire and Wellingborough) border with current Tier 4 areas, where there is a rapid deterioration in epidemiology indicators. The rapid deterioration of the epidemiology indicators is concerning and warrants escalation to Tier 3.

East of England

Area Narrative
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
(Tier 4: Stay at Home)
In the last 7 days, the picture in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has deteriorated significantly. Case rates have increased by 50% or more in all local authorities in this area. Case rate increases have been greatest in Huntingdonshire (165%) and South Cambridgeshire (133%) which are bordering Peterborough which is currently under Tier 4 restrictions, and Cambridge (122%). Testing positivity is above 5% in all local authorities. Case rates people aged 60 years and older have also increased in South Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough. Of particular concern is Fenland where the case rate in people aged 60 years and older has increased to 154/100,000 per week. The situation in Peterborough remains highly concerning with a case rate of 385 per 100,000 and a percentage of individuals who test positive of 13%.

The number of daily COVID hospital admissions in the local NHS (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough STP) continues to rise. The daily COVID bed occupancy is below the national acute hospital average but continues to rise as does the critical care occupancy.

The epidemiological indicators are sufficiently concerning that the entire area requires escalation to Tier 4, with Peterborough remaining in Tier 4.

Essex, Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea
(Tier 4: Stay at Home)
In the last 7 days, the picture in Essex, Thurrock and Southend-On-Sea has deteriorated significantly. Case rates are very high and have been increasing rapidly across the area and over the last 7 days; case rates are above 500 per 100,000 in 10 out of 14 local authorities and have increased by more than 90% in the last 7 days in all local authorities apart from Basildon. Case rates in people aged 60 years and older throughout the region are also very high and are above 200 per 100,000 in 11 of 14 local authorities. Areas currently in Tier 4 restrictions of particular concern include Basildon (case ra

Ministerial Departmental News

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