What tier is my area in? Use our Covid lockdown map to check your postcode

From 12.01am on Wednesday, nearly 11 million people in London will enter the highest tier restrictions, along with areas of Essex and Hertfordshire, which will also move up to Tier 3.  In some areas Covid-19 case rates are doubling every seven days and in all age groups, Matt Hancock told MPs on Monday.  On December 14, the same day Mr Hancock revealed London would enter Tier 3, records showed the capital had the highest weekly case rates of any region in the country. There were approximately 191 cases per 100,000 people, on the week ending December 6. It came as the scheduled review of the English tier system was brought forward by two days. Mr Hancock also informed the House of Commons a "new variant" of the virus had been discovered, "predominantly in the south of England" but in more than 60 local authorities to date.  He said hospitals are already under pressure, and it "only takes a few doublings for the NHS to be overwhelmed".  That means ahead of the formal review date, Greater London, the South and West of Essex and South Hertfordshire will be placed into Tier 3.  Speaking in a press conference from Downing Street on the evening of the announcement, Professor Chris Whitty said it was essential to take “rapid action” to lower the infection numbers. Prof Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, also stated that it was a pivotal moment for the capital and the south-east of England, before reinforcing Whitty’s comments that these areas had to take “quick and decisive action”.  The official local lockdown map is based on the number of cases in each area, particularly among people aged over 60, as well as regional pressures on the NHS and testing.   How have rates changed? Basildon in Essex currently has the third highest case rate in England - at 562.5 - and is 1.6 times higher than when national lockdown ended. Its rate among the over 60s, however, is half that of the worst affected areas of the country, at 251.2.  While hospital occupancy and admission rates remain low in Basildon, the case positivity rate sits at 12.3 per cent - much higher than the five per cent the World Health Organisation considers to be appropriate to catch the vast majority of cases. Other hard-hit areas in Essex include Brentwood and Thurrock, where case rates are high and rising fast - currently at more than 360 per 100,000. The worst affected London boroughs include Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Newham. The case positivity rate - the percentage of tests which come back positive - is above 11 per cent in each borough, and the case rate above 300 per 100,000. Havering is currently faring worst in the city with a case rate of 470.8 per 100,000, having risen to 1.5 times the rate when it emerged from national lockdown.  The case positivity rate in the borough is 12.5 per cent - among the highest in the country - and hospital occupancy rates standing at above 20 per 100,000. However, London is not spread evenly. In Richmond-upon-Thames the case rate is considerably lower at 115.1 per 100,000, and 4.2 per cent of tests are returning positive. The over 60s rate is half that in the general population in Richmond, and hospital occupancy and admission rates are below the national average. In Southwark and Lambeth the case positivity rate is below five per cent, and overall case rates below 200 per 100,000. Both boroughs are also seeing some of the lowest hospital admission rates in the country - at 0.2 per 100,000 in Southwark and 0.3 in Lambeth. Will anything change now we have a vaccine?  In the wake of the news surrounding the approval of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine, the Prime Minister addressed the current three-tier system, acknowledging that the restrictions are “tough” but are nevertheless essential to “keep the virus under control”.  In this press conference on December 2, Mr Johnson said that he hopes areas can “come down the tiers” before the Easter holiday, before emphasising it is necessary that the restrictions stay in place alongside the vaccine. He added: “For the time being you’ve got to take it that tiering will be a very, very important part of our campaign against coronavirus.” Mr Johnson also shared that we still had "some months before all the most vulnerable are protected” and so, we must remain cautions, and not be "carried away with over optimism”.  He emphasised that the Government’s plan relies on the publics continued sacrifice “for those we love”. On December 14, the regional director of Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton also reinforced the power of the jab in the fight against the virus. Speaking most specifically to Londoners, after they were moved to Tier 3, he urged them to accept the vaccine as soon as they have the chance, suggesting it is one of the “keys to unlock the door to the end of this pandemic”. Read more: How long will it take for life to return to normal after the Covid vaccine rollout?​ Areas in T

What tier is my area in? Use our Covid lockdown map to check your postcode

From 12.01am on Wednesday, nearly 11 million people in London will enter the highest tier restrictions, along with areas of Essex and Hertfordshire, which will also move up to Tier 3. 

In some areas Covid-19 case rates are doubling every seven days and in all age groups, Matt Hancock told MPs on Monday. 

On December 14, the same day Mr Hancock revealed London would enter Tier 3, records showed the capital had the highest weekly case rates of any region in the country. There were approximately 191 cases per 100,000 people, on the week ending December 6.

It came as the scheduled review of the English tier system was brought forward by two days.

Mr Hancock also informed the House of Commons a "new variant" of the virus had been discovered, "predominantly in the south of England" but in more than 60 local authorities to date. 

He said hospitals are already under pressure, and it "only takes a few doublings for the NHS to be overwhelmed". 

That means ahead of the formal review date, Greater London, the South and West of Essex and South Hertfordshire will be placed into Tier 3. 

Speaking in a press conference from Downing Street on the evening of the announcement, Professor Chris Whitty said it was essential to take “rapid action” to lower the infection numbers. Prof Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, also stated that it was a pivotal moment for the capital and the south-east of England, before reinforcing Whitty’s comments that these areas had to take “quick and decisive action”. 

The official local lockdown map is based on the number of cases in each area, particularly among people aged over 60, as well as regional pressures on the NHS and testing.  

How have rates changed?

Basildon in Essex currently has the third highest case rate in England - at 562.5 - and is 1.6 times higher than when national lockdown ended.

Its rate among the over 60s, however, is half that of the worst affected areas of the country, at 251.2. 

While hospital occupancy and admission rates remain low in Basildon, the case positivity rate sits at 12.3 per cent - much higher than the five per cent the World Health Organisation considers to be appropriate to catch the vast majority of cases.

Other hard-hit areas in Essex include Brentwood and Thurrock, where case rates are high and rising fast - currently at more than 360 per 100,000.

The worst affected London boroughs include Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Newham.

The case positivity rate - the percentage of tests which come back positive - is above 11 per cent in each borough, and the case rate above 300 per 100,000.

Havering is currently faring worst in the city with a case rate of 470.8 per 100,000, having risen to 1.5 times the rate when it emerged from national lockdown. 

The case positivity rate in the borough is 12.5 per cent - among the highest in the country - and hospital occupancy rates standing at above 20 per 100,000.

However, London is not spread evenly. In Richmond-upon-Thames the case rate is considerably lower at 115.1 per 100,000, and 4.2 per cent of tests are returning positive.

The over 60s rate is half that in the general population in Richmond, and hospital occupancy and admission rates are below the national average.

In Southwark and Lambeth the case positivity rate is below five per cent, and overall case rates below 200 per 100,000.

Both boroughs are also seeing some of the lowest hospital admission rates in the country - at 0.2 per 100,000 in Southwark and 0.3 in Lambeth.

Will anything change now we have a vaccine? 

In the wake of the news surrounding the approval of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine, the Prime Minister addressed the current three-tier system, acknowledging that the restrictions are “tough” but are nevertheless essential to “keep the virus under control”. 

In this press conference on December 2, Mr Johnson said that he hopes areas can “come down the tiers” before the Easter holiday, before emphasising it is necessary that the restrictions stay in place alongside the vaccine.

He added: “For the time being you’ve got to take it that tiering will be a very, very important part of our campaign against coronavirus.”

Mr Johnson also shared that we still had "some months before all the most vulnerable are protected” and so, we must remain cautions, and not be "carried away with over optimism”. 

He emphasised that the Government’s plan relies on the publics continued sacrifice “for those we love”.

On December 14, the regional director of Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton also reinforced the power of the jab in the fight against the virus. Speaking most specifically to Londoners, after they were moved to Tier 3, he urged them to accept the vaccine as soon as they have the chance, suggesting it is one of the “keys to unlock the door to the end of this pandemic”.

Read more: How long will it take for life to return to normal after the Covid vaccine rollout?​

Areas in Tier 3 (very high alert) include:

Greater London

All 32 boroughs from midnight on Wednesday, December 16.

Essex

From midnight, Wednesday December 16; 

  • Basildon
  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Castle Point
  • Chelmsford
  • Epping Forest
  • Harlow
  • Maldon
  • Rochford
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Thurrock

Hertfordshire

From midnight, Wednesday, December 16;

  • Broxbourne
  • Hertsmere
  • Three Rivers
  • Watford

North East

  • Tees Valley Combined Authority: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington
  • North East Combined Authority: Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, County Durham, Northumberland

North West

  • Greater Manchester
  • Lancashire
  • Blackpool
  • Blackburn with Darwen

Yorkshire and The Humber

  • The Humber
  • West Yorkshire
  • South Yorkshire

West Midlands

  • Birmingham and Black Country
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

East Midlands

  • Derby and Derbyshire
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire

South East

  • Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
  • Kent and Medway

South West

  • Bristol
  • South Gloucestershire
  • North Somerst

Areas in Tier 2 (high alert) include:

North West

  • Cumbria
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Warrington and Cheshire

Yorkshire

  • York
  • North Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • Worcestershire
  • Herefordshire
  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

East Midlands

  • Rutland
  • Northamptonshire

East of England

  • Suffolk
  • In Hertfordshire; Dacorum, East Hertfordshire, North Hertfordshire, St Albans, Stevenage, Welwyn Hatfield
  • Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
  • Norfolk
  • In Essex; Colchester, Tendring and Uttlesford
  • Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

South East

  • East Sussex
  • West Sussex
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Surrey
  • Reading
  • Wokingham
  • Bracknell Forest
  • Windsor and Maidenhead
  • West Berkshire
  • Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Oxfordshire

South West

  • South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Dorset
  • Bournemouth
  • Christchurch
  • Poole
  • Gloucestershire
  • Wiltshire and Swindon
  • Devon

Areas in Tier 1 (medium alert) include:

South East

  • Isle of Wight
  • South West
  • Cornwall
  • Isles of Scilly

What are the new rules and how long will they last?

The new Covid Winter Plan brings an end to England's stay-at-home order, and allows for the reopening of shops, gyms, personal care and the leisure sector.

Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume and people are no longer limited to seeing one other person outdoors, as the rule of six returns once more.  

Hospitality can reopen in the two lowest tiers, with the 10pm curfew tweaked into a 10pm last orders. In tier three, sales are restricted to takeaways and delivery. 

These tiers will remain in place until March at the earliest, however, the placement of each area in each tier will be reviewed every two weeks. 

In a press briefing on November 26, the Prime Minister explained how the stricter tier system would “strike a balance” and that every area has a “means of escape” and the potential to move down a tier.

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 (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity – including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences; and
  • 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.

Can I see family and friends at Christmas?

Families will be able to stay together and form a “Christmas bubble” from Dec 23 to Dec 27.  

Travel restrictions are also being lifted, allowing people to visit families in other parts of the UK.

In particular Northern Ireland has negotiated a seven-day suspension of the Christmas rules to help people who need to catch flights or ferries to the mainland. It will run from Dec 22 to Dec 28.  

However, on December 14, when asked whether the relaxation of rules over Christmas would be re-assessed, the Health Secretary refused to answer definitively. 

Instead, he shared: “Our messages around Christmas are really clear. We understand why people want to see their loved ones, especially at this time of year, especially after this year. But it must be done in a way that is careful and responsible, and I think people understand that too”.

“If you are planning to meet up with loved ones at Christmas, then being careful now, two weeks ahead, making sure you minimise the chance of both catching the disease and passing it on is the right thing to do - actually, that’s the right thing to do all the time.”

On December 1, Matt Hancock announced that residents in care homes across all three tiers are allowed to see their families over the Christmas period. On providing a negative test, families can meet inside one again over the festive period. The earliest visits began on December 2.

Grottos allowed, but no sitting on Santa's lap

Grottos are allowed to open across all tiers, new government guidance has confirmed, but sitting on Santa’s lap is banned. 

Venues must put in place appropriate Covid-secure measures and families are required to maintain social distancing from Father Christmas.

Door-to-door carol singing is permitted as long as groups are outdoors and keep apart from each other.

However, those in Tier 3 are not able to attend school nativity plays and will have to live stream or watch a recording instead.

Performances need to be within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups.

In Tiers 1 and 2 audiences are able to attend “subject to appropriate safeguards being in place”.

When will tiers be reviewed? 

The first review point for the current tier allocations will take place on December 16.

This allows for the possibility of areas which continue to make progress in slowing the spread of the disease to be moved down a tier in advance of Christmas. 

What about the rest of the UK? 

In Scotland, on November 26, the Government set a cap of eight people over 12 years old for Christmas gatherings. They also emphasised that households should remain two metres apart while inside. Scotland has imposed a country-wide travel ban and imposed Tier 3 restrictions across 20 of its central and western areas, including Glasgow and Edinburgh. Tier 4 restrictions on 11 local authorities were lifted on December 11.

Wales is set to introduce a four-tier traffic light lockdown system from the week commencing December 14 as cases continue to rise. The First Minister warned in a government briefing that Wales will enter full lockdown from December 28 if cases do not decrease. This news comes as Covid patients in Welsh hospitals surpassed 1,900 for the first time during the pandemic. Secondary schools have also been closed. 

Northern Ireland lifted a circuit-break lockdown on Dec 11, after a fortnight of closures for non-essential retail, restaurants and hairdressers.

Got a question about the new tiers system? Comment below or email yourstory@telegraph.co.uk for your questions to be answered by our experts.