Tier 6: Three areas have the highest positivity rate – but will they go into Tier 6?

Lockdown is causing ‘massive harm’ says expert

A Tier 6 lockdown may soon be announced across the country. Travel from South America and Portugal to the UK is now being banned as new Covid variants prove much more transmissible and lead to coronavirus cases surging. Express.co.uk compiles a guide to explain which regions have the highest rates of the virus and if they will go into Tier 6 soon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown in England in early January as cases continue to climb.

From January 4, people have been told they must remain at home except for a set of very specific reasons.

Speaking on Monday Mr Johnson said: “This is a very perilous moment because everybody can sense that the vaccine is coming in and they can see that the UK is vaccinating large numbers of those that need it most.

“My worry is… that this is the moment when that degree of false confidence, false complacency, and that when you look at what has happened in the NHS that complacency is not merited.”

Mr Johnson added: “We have a very tough fight on our hands.”

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However, cases of the virus are continuing to show little sign of significantly slowing down.

This means the NHS is under increasing pressure and major incidents have now been declared in London and Essex.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the next few weeks will be very difficult for the NHS.

He warned Britons the toughest period had not yet been reached.

Professor Whitty said “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS is expected in the next few weeks.

He told the BBC: “I don’t think we’re yet at the peak, I’m afraid.

“I think we will be at the peak if everybody can double down and absolutely minimise their contacts.

“The point of the lockdown is to bring that forward, but it only works if everyone really thinks about every individual interaction they have and to try and minimise them.”

A national lockdown began in Scotland at the same time as in England.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced lockdown restrictions would be toughened this week as the “race against the virus” is stepped up.

Six new rules will begin from 12.01am on January 16.

The new rules include banning click and collect services except for essential retailers and making restaurants a no-entry area for customers collecting orders.

The First Minister also said the wording of the stay at home law will be altered to “close an apparent loophole” which prevents people from leaving and “remaining” outdoors other than for an essential purpose.

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The regions of London, North West and East of England have the highest positivity rates according to the Zoe Covid Study app.

The rates are as follows:

  • London: Positivity rate – 12.0 percent; Incidence rate – 112.8 per 100,000; hospital bed occupancy – 54.38 percent.
  • North West: Positivity rate – 11.63 percent; Incidence rate – 80.0 per 100,000; hospital bed occupancy – 28.20 percent.
  • East of England: Positivity rate – 10.97 percent; Incidence rate – 79.5 per 100,000; hospital bed occupancy – 41.96 percent.

Will there be a Tier 6 lockdown in London, the North West and East of England?

This week the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith was asked about tighter restrictions.

When asked about potential Tier 6 lockdown restrictions he argued “the vast majority of people are following the rules”.

Mr Duncan-Smith said there was no need for stronger Tier 6 rules to be put into effect.

Authorities have not yet confirmed there will be a toughening of rules but have emphasised rules will be tightened if cases continue to rise.

Mr Johnson said: “Now is the moment for maximum vigilance, maximum observance of the rules.

“Of course, if we feel that things are not being properly observed then we may have to do more.”

The Home Secretary Priti Patel this week revealed the Government would not announce new Covid restrictions on Thursday or Friday, but would not rule out more restrictions being announced next week.

On Thursday new data revealed just a tenth of all vaccinations nationally were given in London, meaning the region has the lowest vaccination rate of any English area.

The news comes as Public Health England data showed Covid-19 cases had dropped in most regions of the country, although London continues to have the highest rate of any region.

London’s rate of new cases stands at 993.4 per 100,000 people in seven days to January 14, which has dropped from 1,043.9 the previous week.

In the North West, the rate of cases stands at 404.2 per 100,000 people according to the Government website.

The rate of cases across the East of England is at 709.2 per 100,000 people.

How strict would Tier 6 be?

Tier 6 lockdown rules have not been officially outlined in any Government guidance, but it can be assumed these rules would be stricter than the current Tier 5 lockdown measures.

Experts believe Tier 6 could involve any of the following measures:

  • A ban of all household mixing while exercising
  • Supermarkets legally requiring masks
  • Making face masks compulsory in offices, queues and other crowded places outside.
  • Ending support bubbles
  • Closing nursery schools
  • Shutting places of worship

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has spoken about potentially banning exercise with a member of a different household, but he confirmed people are still to do that.

Mr Hancock also confirmed the Government has no plans to remove support and childcare bubbles if tougher restrictions are introduced.

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