Tier 3 changes: Millions of Brits anxiously waiting to hear if they will be plunged into harsher rules this weekend
Millions of Brits are braced to be told they will be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown this weekend.
Ministers are holding a crunch meeting tonight to decide what areas of England will be slapped with the harsh restrictions.
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Whitehall insiders said they expect areas to only be moved up into Tier 3, and none to see rules relaxed and slide down into Tier 2.
One told The Sun: “I would be surprised if any area goes down a tier.
“It would look very strange to loosen restrictions when everyone is so worried that the Christmas rules could fuel higher rates.”
The crunch decision comes just hours after London and much of the South East went into Tier 3 amid rocketing Covid rates.
Pubs, restaurants and theatres have all been shut down across the capital and its neighbouring regions.
There are now around 34 million people in England living under the toughest rules.
Downing Street is expected to take a hyper cautious approach as they battle to dampen down Covid infection rates before the Christmas lockdown amnesty.
But politicians in Manchester and Birmingham have been pressing Boris Johnson to move them from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said there was a “clear case” for his region area to see rules loosened as infection rates are now lower than the English average.
But he suggested he would be happy with Greater Manchester being carved up, with parts moved down into Tier 2 while the worst hit spots remaining in the harshest lockdown.
He said he would understand if the Government wanted to “err on the side of caution”.
Mr Burnham added: “We have seen steady decreases across all of our boroughs pretty much ever since the last tiering decision, to the point where we are now essentially below the England average across the 10 boroughs – we are at 150 cases on average per 100,000 people, England averages 180.
“We are below London and below Liverpool when they went into Tier 2 originally.
“I accept the national mood has changed since those decisions were taken and I can also understand if the Government were wanting to err on the side of caution.
“There is a clear case for Greater Manchester, or a large part of Greater Manchester, to be placed in Tier 2.”
According to data from the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App, run by researchers at King's College London, Oxfordshire, East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and Northamptonshire have all seen an uptick in infections.
Oxfordshire is currently in Tier 2 and data from the app shows that the area has 188 cases per 100,000 and 50 cases per 100,000 people in the over 60s.
The app has also predicted that East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove could be moved into Tier 3.
The data suggests that the area has 232 cases per 100,000 people and 63 cases per 100,000 in those over the age of 60.
Earlier this week it was revealed that some schools in Brighton were forced to close due to outbreaks of the virus.
Northamptonshire has also seen a rise with 344 cases per 100,000 and 61 cases per 100,000 in the over 60s.
Moving into the "very high alert" level would force the hospitality sector to shut down, other than for takeaway service.
It would also mean people can't meet friends and family inside or outdoors, except in public places such as parks.
Data from King's College London is separate from data published by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that more than two thirds of local areas across England are seeing a rise in Covid-19 case rates.
Data from PHE states that seven days ago, 126 out of a total of 315 local authority areas had recorded a week-on-week jump in rates. That figure now stands at 222.
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