politics

5 factors the government uses to decide which tier you will be in


The government is set to formally review its tier system today, for the first time since introducing Tier Four on 19 December.

Areas may move up or down the tiers depending on how they have coped with the coronavirus pandemic over the festive period.

It’s expected that the majority of areas will find themselves under stricter restrictions than before, as the government struggles to contain a new, highly-contagious variant of Covid-19.

While this is the first formal review since it was created, the government has already moved a number of areas up into Tier Four.

Changes can be made to the tier system at any time, and officials will not wait for the formal review if they believe the situation is worsening rapidly.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to reviewing the tier system once every two weeks, so fortnightly reviews will go ahead, and changes will likely be made.

How are tiers decided?

The government considers a number of factors when deciding which tier an area should be in.

Analysis of cases across all age groups

Officials will look at the total number of cases in an area, whether cases are rising or falling, and their geographical spread. Areas with a high case rate (the number of people per 100,000 who are infected) are more likely to move to a higher tier.



London was one of the first areas to be plunged into Tier Four

Analysis of cases specifically among the over-60s

The government pays particular attention to case rates among people over 60. This is because they are typically more severely affected by the disease than younger generations.

Rate by which cases are rising or falling

Officials will consider how rapidly cases are rising or falling in an area, as well as the local R rate.

Percentage of those tested in local populations who are found to have Covid

If a high percentage of people who are tested get a positive result, this suggests there is a higher prevalence of disease in the general population.

Current and projected pressures on the NHS

Government officials will consider the capacity of the local NHS services. They will look at daily hospital admissions, COVID bed occupancy, and projected COVID bed occupancy.

The government will also take any exceptional circumstances, or local context, into consideration when reviewing the country’s tiers.

Officials must weigh all these different factors against each other, and make the best decisions for each specific area.

There is not one threshold that will automatically get an area plunged into Tier Four.

When the government changes an area’s tier, it publishes its reasoning on the gov.uk website. This means you can find out why your area was moved, and the thought process that went into the decision.

When are tiers reviewed?

The government’s tier system is officially reviewed once every two weeks, but areas can be moved outside of this time frame.

Most recently, 73 local areas were moved into stricter measures on Boxing Day, four days before the review today.

The government has also not ruled out a third national lockdown in 2021.





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