The Liverpool City Region will the first area to move down to Tier 2 in England’s new three-tiered CCP virus alert system, according to the government’s newly published list of local restriction tiers by area.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock attributed the result to residents following restriction rules and the recent mass-testing pilot in Liverpool.
“In the Liverpool City region, the number of cases has fallen by more than two thirds. In the borough of Liverpool itself, where the mass-testing took place, cases have fallen by three quarters,” Hancock told Parliament on Thursday.
Since the restrictions in the new tiered system are tougher than the previous one in place, the restrictions in Liverpool will remain largely unchanged from when it was in Tier 3, except indoor leisure and entertainment venues can stay open.
“While the strategy remains the same, the current epidemiological evidence and clinical advice shows that we must make the tiers tougher than they were before, to protect the NHS through the winter and avert another national lockdown,” Hancock said.
His speech marked the publication of a list detailing which areas will go into which tiers from Dec. 2, when the current four-week national lockdown ends.
Only three areas are placed in Tier 1: the Isle of Wight in South East England, and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in South West England.
Residents have to adhere to the “rule of six,” meaning a maximum of six people are allowed to gather indoors or outdoors, unless all are from the same household or support bubble.
Bars, pubs, and restaurants are limited to table service only, and must close by 11 p.m.
Greater London—including all 32 London boroughs and the City of London—is in Tier 2, along with 37 areas from the rest of England.
No household mixing will be allowed indoors in these areas, and the rule of six applies outdoors.
Pubs and bars must close unless they operate as restaurants. Alcohol can only be served with substantial meals. In the previous three-tiered system, pubs and bars could remain open at this level.
The remaining 21 areas in England will be in Tier 3, where rules are similar to those during national lockdown.
Household mixing is forbidden in most places, hospitality and indoor entertainment businesses will remain closed, and large events are not allowed. However, retail businesses will be open, and leisure and sports venues and places of worship can open as long as there’s no household mixing. Gym classes and organised sports can happen outdoors.
Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations informed by case detection rate, how quickly case rates are rising or falling, positivity in the general population, current and projected (3–4 weeks) pressure on the NHS, and local context, the government said.
More areas have been placed in higher tiers than they were in the previous three-tiered system. A government press release on Thursday said it is to safeguard the gains made during the period of national restrictions.
The release also said that the first review point for the current tier allocations will take place by Dec. 16.
Hancock told Parliament the government will review the measures in a fortnight and keep them regularly under review after that.
Parliament is going to vote on the new tiered system on Dec. 1, the day before it is due to come into effect.
Hancock said that the mass-testing programme will be “open to all local authorities in tier 3 areas in the first instance, and offers help to get out of the toughest restrictions as fast as possible.”