Covid: England unlikely to see many regions reach lowest Tier before spring

Most regions are in Tier 2 or 3. Credit: PA

It is unlikely many English regions will drop into Tier 1 until late spring, according to experts.

Only Cornwall, Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly currently have the lowest level of Covid-19 restriction with the rest of the country in Tier 2 or Tier 3.

The R value across the UK is estimated to be between 0.9-1.0 for the first time since September and experts believe the epidemic is decreasing but changes to Tiers could negatively impact it.

Those currently in Tier 3 are seeing the R value reduce the quickest, with the north-west, north-east and parts of Yorkshire set to see the rate drop below 1.

Levels of infection would have to be considerably lower for them to be considered eligible for Tier 1 but that comes with risks as cases would almost certainly increase if restrictions were relaxed.

Experts know that the winter months are the most difficult as the NHS is already under pressure due to flu season and the triggers for respiratory illnesses during this period, meaning officials would not be keen on increasing risk.

There will, however, be a short-term relaxing over Christmas when three households will be permitted to form a bubble over a five-day period.

The government was advised to keep the number of people allowed to mix down to a minimum and the same for the number of days which the rules are loosened.

What can you do in each tier from December 2? The new rules in England at a glance:

  • Tier 1: Up to six people can meet indoors or outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm.

  • Tier 2: No mixing indoors, apart from support bubbles. Up to six people can meet outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm - but alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

  • Tier 3: No mixing indoors. People can only meet outdoors in limited places such as parks and public gardens. Pubs and restaurants must close, with the exception of takeaway sales.

In all tiers, non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and personal care services can open. People in all tiers to work from home where they can do so. Full details on what you can do in each tier here.