On 2 December, England reemerged from its second national lockdown, and entered back into the tier system that was in place ahead of the countrywide restrictions.
Those tiers have been updated to be slightly more strict, and many are apprehensive about what impact they will have on their everyday lives.
So how often could the new tiers be reviewed, and how likely is it that places will be ‘downgraded’ to more lenient measures?
Here is everything you need to know.
When is the next tier review?
Currently, it is set out in law that restrictions imposed by the incoming tier system will be reviewed every fortnight.
That means the first review point for the current tier allocations took place on Wednesday 16 December. However, it’s since been revealed that reviews are likely to take place more regularly than that.
Following that review, regions’ tiers could change, and its possible of areas that continue to make progress in slowing the spread of the disease to be moved down a tier in advance of Christmas.
But just as an area could have less stringent measures imposed upon it with a return to a lower tier, measures could get stricter, if that's what infection levels dictate.
It is expected that following the tier review on 16 December, “most of the movement” will be “places going from Tier 2 to Tier 3”, according to Playbook.
When will new tiers be announced on 17 December?
According to Playbook, there was a meeting of the COVID O committee late in the day on 16 December to review the tier allocations across the country.
Announcements on the new tier allocations will come today (17 December).
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make a statement at 11:30 GMT.
Could tier reviews happen more regularly?
Originally, Downing Street confirmed that even though data would be reviewed more regularly, reviews would still only take place every two weeks.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It will be reviewed every two weeks, and as you would expect we keep looking at the data continuously.”
But MPs who spoke to the Health Secretary to discuss London’s recent switch to Tier 3 said Matt Hancock said the next review of tiers following the 16 December review will be on December 23, and would be weekly from now on.
How are the tiers decided?
Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors:
- case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, among the over 60s)
- how quickly case rates are rising or falling
- positivity in the general population
- pressure on the NHS – including current and projected NHS capacity – including admissions, bed occupancy and staff absences
- local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak
If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post