England’s new tier system at a glance - and which areas could be in Tier 1, 2 or 3

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (23 Nov) that regions around England will be returning to tiered restrictions when national lockdown ends on 2 December.

However, the restrictions will differ slightly from those in place before the country entered into its second lockdown on 5 November, with tighter measures depending on which tier an area falls under.

But which areas are likely to be in which tier - and how will it be decided?

Areas with the highest rates of coronavirus

The coronavirus numbers are measured per every 100,000 people living in the area.

The East Yorkshire city of Hull currently has the highest rate in England, but the county of Kent (including Thanet) has also recently seen a sharp rise in coronavirus rates, with these areas potentially set to see tougher Covid restrictions.

According to the Press Association, these are the ten areas of England which currently have the highest cases of Covid-19:

Hull (568.6)Swale (565.0)Thanet (508.0)East Lindsey (493.2)Dudley (484.5)Stoke-on-Trent (482.1)Hyndburn (467.7)Hartlepool (460.2)Boston (450.3)Sandwell (447.6)

This list has been calculated based on Public Health England data published on 23 November, with the rate of new cases in the seven days to 19 November.

Near the bottom of the list, Suffolk, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight have fewer Covid cases, indicating that these areas could be placed into Tier 1 - the lowest tier of restrictions.

However, it has not yet been decided which areas will fall under which tier, with the government to announce this decision on Thursday 26 November.

How will the allocation of tiers be decided?

The allocation of tiers to each area will be based on five criteria, including each area's case numbers, the R number (reproduction rate of coronavirus), and the current and projected local pressure on the NHS.

Government officials and scientists will be analysing the coronavirus rates - as well as taking into account how badly over 60s are affected, and how fast cases are rising and falling - but there will be no negotiation with local leaders this time

Tier allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, with the regional approach to be in place until March. Financial support will also be based on a standard rate per head.

What do the updated tiers mean?

In all three tiers, non-essential shops, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, sports pitches, hairdressers, beauty salons, synagogues, churches and mosques will be allowed to reopen.

However, there will be different rules in place, depending on tier, especially when it comes to hospitality.

In Tier 2, only pubs serving substantial meals can serve alcohol, but in Tier 3, hospitality will close, except for delivery and takeaway.

In areas where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open, last orders will now be at 10pm, with drinkers allowed until 11pm to finish their drinks.

Indoor performances will also return in Tiers 1 and 2, but with reduced capacity in place.

When it comes to meeting friends and family, a maximum of six people can meet indoors or outdoors in Tier 1. In Tier 2, there is no mixing of households indoors, and a maximum of six people can meet outdoors.

In Tier 3, household mixing is not allowed indoors, or in most outdoor places.

Exceptions to the above rules apply for support bubbles, which will change slightly from 2 December. Parents with babies under the age of one, or those who live with a child under 5 with a disability that needs continuous care, will be allowed to form a support bubble with another household.

The new tier rules in full

Tier 1 - Medium

Follow the rule of six if meeting indoors or outdoorsPubs and restaurants to shut at 11pmMinimising travel is encouraged and work from home where possibleLimited numbers of people allowed at sporting events and live performances

Tier 2 - High

No household mixing indoorsRule of 6 outdoorsPubs and restaurants to shut at 11pm - alcohol only served as part of substantial mealLimited numbers of people allowed at sporting events and live performances

Tier 3 - Very high

No household mixing indoorsNo household mixing outdoors in private gardens or hospitality venuesRule of 6 in outdoor public spaces, such as parksPubs and restaurants will be closed - except for takeaway/deliveryIndoor entertainment venues will be closedGuidance against travelling in and out of the area