Statement to Parliament: Returning to a regional tiered approach

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Statement to Parliament: New action to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Bolton

On 23 November, the Prime Minister set out our COVID-19 Winter Plan in Parliament. Our COVID-19 Winter Plan puts forward the UK Governments programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going, and providing a route back to normality.

Thanks to the shared sacrifice of everyone in recent weeks, in following the national restrictions, we have been able to start to bring the virus back under control and slow its growth, easing some of the pressure on the NHS.

We will do this by returning to a regional tiered approach, saving the toughest measures for the parts of the country where prevalence remains too high.

The tiering approach provides a framework that, if used firmly, should prevent the need to introduce stricter national measures.On 2 December we will lift the national restrictions across all of England and the following restrictions will be eased:

  • the stay-at-home requirement will end
  • non-essential retail, gyms, personal care will reopen. The wider leisure and entertainment sectors will also reopen, although to varying degrees
  • communal worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume
  • people will no longer be limited to seeing one other person in outdoor public spaces, where the rule of 6 will now apply

The new regulations set out the restrictions applicable in each tier. We have taken into account advice from SAGE on the impact of the previous tiers to strengthen the measures in the tiers, and help enable areas to move more swiftly into lower tiers.

The changes to the tiers are as follows:

  • in tier 1, the government will reinforce the importance that, where people can work from home, they should do so
  • in tier 2, hospitality settings that serve alcohol must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
  • in tier 3, hospitality will close except for delivery, drive-through and takeaway, hotels and other accommodation providers must close (except for specific exemptions, such as people staying for work purposes, where people are attending a funeral, or where they cannot return home) and indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling allies must also close. Elite sport will be played without spectators. Organised outdoor sport can resume, but the Government will advise against higher risk contact sports

These are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice, and the criteria that we set out in the COVID-19 Winter Plan.

These are:

  1. case detection rates in all age groups
  2. case detection rates in the over 60s
  3. the rate at which cases are rising or falling
  4. positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
  5. pressure on the NHS

The indicators have been designed to give the government a picture of what is happening with the virus in any area so that suitable action can be taken. These key indicators need to be viewed in the context of how they interact with each other as well as the wider context but provide an important framework for decision making assessing the underlying prevalence in addition to how the spread of the disease is changing in areas. Given these sensitivities, it is not possible to set rigid thresholds for these indicators.

The regulations will require the government to review the allocations every 14 days, with the first review complete by the end of 16 December.

We have been able to announce UK-wide arrangements for Christmas, allowing friends and loved ones to reunite, and form a Christmas bubble of 3 households for 5 days over the Christmas period.

We have increased funding through our Contain Outbreak Management Fund, which will provide monthly payments to local authorities facing higher restrictions.

We are also launching a major community testing programme, honing in on the areas with the greatest rate of infection.

This programme is open to local authorities in tier 3 areas and offers help to get out of the toughest restrictions as fast as possible.

The following areas will be in each tier from the 2 December. This list will also be published on GOV.UK and a postcode tracker will be available for the public to check what rules apply in their local area.

Table of how areas have been allocated

Region Sub-region Allocation Reason
North West Greater Manchester Very high (tier 3) While there has been continued improvement in Greater Manchester, weekly case rates remain very high, especially amongst those aged over 60, at around 260 per 100,000 people. The pressure on the local NHS is decreasing in some areas but remains a concern; Manchester University hospital and Pennine Acute Trust remain under significant pressure.
Lancashire, Blackpool, and Blackburn with Darwen Very high (tier 3) While there have been improvements in some areas, case rates and the proportion of tests which are positive for COVID-19 remain high. Case rates in over 60s are very high (over 200 per 100,000) in 6 lower tier local authorities. There is still pressure on the NHS in this region.
Liverpool City Region High (tier 2) There is continued improvement across the Liverpool city region. Case rates (including for the over 60s) are decreasing rapidly with some notable improvements in Liverpool, Knowsley and Sefton. Cases have fallen by 69% over 6 weeks. However, despite improvements, case rates in over 60s remain high at 150+ per 100,000 people in all lower tier local authorities.
Cheshire (including Warrington) High (tier 2) Case rates are continuing to decline across Warrington and Cheshire, with a 27.4% fall to 209 people per 100,000, in line with Liverpool City Region. However, case rates in those over 60 remain high (175/100,000) though falling. Positivity is 8.1%. Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust has 150 inpatients with COVID-19.
Cumbria High (tier 2) The picture in Cumbria is broadly improving although case rates in Carlisle and South Lakeland are increasing with increases likely due to a large school outbreak. Case rates in over 60s are above 100 per 100,000 in Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. These case rates are too high for allocation to tier 1 but Cumbrias trajectory does currently not warrant inclusion in tier 3.
North East Tees Valley Combined Authority Very high (tier 3) While case rates are now decreasing in all lower tier local authorities, they remain very high at 390 people per 100,000 across the region, with positivity also very high at 13.3%. The case rate in over 60s remains very high at 292 per 100,000. NHS admissions in the area have remained high in November.
North East Combined Authority Very high (tier 3) The region continues to see very high case rates, overall 318 people per 100,000, although this figure is either stable or falling in all parts of the region. Case rate in over 60s remains very high at 256 per 100,000. NHS admissions in the area have remained high in November.
Yorkshire and The Humber The Humber Very high (tier 3) The picture in Humber is improving with case rates now falling in 3 of the 4 lower tier local authorities. However, case rates in all ages and in over 60s remain very high (431/100,000 and 344/100,000 respectively). Positivity is 12.6%. There is ongoing pressure on the local NHS.
West Yorkshire Very high (tier 3) This area is improving with case rates falling in all 5 lower tier local authorities. However, case rates in all ages and rates in over 60s remain very high (389/100,000 and 312/100,000 respectively). Positivity is 13.9%.
South Yorkshire Very high (tier 3) This area is improving with case rates falling in all 4 lower tier local authorities. However, case rates in all ages and rates in those over 60 remain very high (274/100,000 and 223/100,000 respectively). Positivity is 11.0%. There is pressure on local NHS Trusts.
York and North Yorkshire High (tier 2) Overall case rates (including for those over 60) in this region are improving in 7 of the 8 local authorities and lower than other parts of Yorkshire and The Humber but remain high overall (202/100,000 in all age groups and 145/100,000 for those aged over 60). Positivity is 8

Ministerial Departmental News

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