When will Sheffield’s lockdown rules be reviewed and how long will South Yorkshire stay in Tier 3?

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Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire will be under the highest Tier 3 restrictions from next Wednesday, December 2, when the national lockdown ends.

That means pubs and restaurants must close and households cannot mix indoors or in private gardens, though non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen.

But when is the earliest that could change, with Sheffield potentially being moved into one of the two lower tiers, and how will the decision be made?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has the final say on which areas are placed into which tier of restrictions (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)Prime Minister Boris Johnson has the final say on which areas are placed into which tier of restrictions (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has the final say on which areas are placed into which tier of restrictions (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Government has said it will review which areas are placed into which tiers every 14 days, meaning the first review will take place by Wednesday, December 16.

It says that places which continue to make progress in slowing the spread of the disease could be moved down a tier ahead of Christmas.

Should Sheffield be downgraded to Tier 2, people from different households would be allowed to meet in gardens, and cafes and restaurants could reopen, along with pubs serving substantial meals.

Coronavirus LIVE: Sheffield and South Yorkshire plunged into Tier 3 lockdown from December 2

It would also mean limited spectators being allowed at sports stadiums, enabling Blades and Owls fans to finally get back in the stands.

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Future decisions will be made using the same criteria as the original assessment, which are:

Case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s)

How quickly case rates are rising or falling

Positivity in the general population

Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity – including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences

Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.

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The Government said that the tiers had been toughened and more areas had been placed into the higher tiers ‘in order to safeguard the gains made’ during the national lockdown.

Announcing its rationale for placing South Yorkshire into Tier 3 lockdown, the Government said the situation there was improving with case rates falling in all four 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,” it added.

The latest weekly Covid-19 infection rate for Sheffield, for the seven days to November 21, is 231.3 new cases per 100,000 people – down from 297.0 during the previous week.

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Tier 3 areas like South Yorkshire will get access to rapid-turnaround later flow tests to help bring down infections and have the restrictions eased.

They will also be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme.

Announcing the new tiers, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

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“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”

The Joint Biosecurity Centre will work closely with Public Health England and the NHS to monitor the latest figures before advising the Chief Medical Officer and ministers.

Final decisions about tiers are made by the Prime Minister at the COVID Operations Committee.

Responding to the announcement, Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said: “We must not stay there a moment longer than we have to. We need better test & trace; better, fairer support for our people & businesses; and above all a credible roadmap out.”

The different tiers do not affect the arrangements for Christmas, when the Government has said up to three households can form a bubble and meet at home between December 23 and 27.