Why most of the Midlands is either in Tier 2 or Tier 3 despite 'improvements' in coronavirus rates

Majority of people in the Midlands will be living under Tier 2 or Tier 3 measures once the national lockdown ends on December 2 under the government’s new Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes as many local MPs and council leaders have expressed their frustration and described the latest rules as a "bitter blow".

But what exactly is the reasoning behind this decision?

How have the new tiers been decided?

  • Case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, among the over 60s)

  • How quickly Covid-19 case rates are rising or falling

  • Positivity in the general population - the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken

  • Pressure on the NHS – including the current and projected (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity

  • Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.

Coronavirus tests being carried out at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground Covid-19 testing site in Birmingham. Credit: PA

What tier am I in and what has the Department of Health and Social Care said about each area in the Midlands?

Birmingham and Black Country - Tier 3 - Very High

The Department of Health and Social care said: "While case rates are improving (down 8.3%) they remain very high (390/100,000)."

"There is a similar trend for positivity and pressure on the NHS remains high."

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: "We need a clear roadmap out of these restrictions and a meaningful package of support for jobs and businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, so we can focus on what needs to be done to keep people safe – and ensure our economy continues to function in an effective way."

He added: "The crisis faced by hospitality businesses across Birmingham is of particular concern from an economic perspective - a crisis that would have been exacerbated whether our city was placed in Tier 2 or 3."

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire - Tier 3 - Very High

Despite the proportion of hospital beds being taken up by Covid-19 patients are falling - it still remains high.

The Department of Health added: "There has been an improvement, but case rates remain very high in the over 60s at 211 per 100,000."

"The overall case rate is 244 per 100,000 and positivity is 10%."

Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen said the Tier 3 restrictions in the city were a "bitter blow".

He said: "It’s a bitter blow for people in Nottingham who have done the right thing, followed the rules and done an incredible job of driving down the rate of Covid infections from the highest in the country to below the national average.

"We had hoped that this would have meant we would be spared going into Tier 3 and the extra restrictions that come with that being imposed on local people and struggling local businesses.

Leicester and Leicestershire - Tier 3 - Very High

The Department of Health said: "Improvements have been seen in overall case rates in all but one lower tier local authority, but remain very high at 355 per 100,000, including in over 60s at 250 per 100k."

"The pressure on the local NHS remains very high."

In a joint statement reacting to the city of Leicester being placed under Tier 3 restrictions, Labour MPs Liz Kendall, Jonathan Ashworth and Claudia Webbe said: "This has already been an unbelievably tough year, and the news that Leicester will go into Tier 3 – on top of the 150 days of our extra lockdown – is extremely difficult to hear."

The people of Leicester have faced more than 150 days of tough Covid restrictions. Credit: PA Images

"The Government must now spell out how we can get out of Tier 3, and the measures they will use to review Leicester’s position, to give people hope their sacrifices will make a difference.

"Ministers also need to fix test, trace and isolate and give our local council the resources it needs to properly support local people.

"We know how exhausted and frustrated everyone feels and the huge strain this lockdown has caused.

"News of a vaccine provides us with light at the end of the tunnel, but the Government must now act on the concerns we have repeatedly raised and give people in Leicester the help and support they deserve."

Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent - Tier 3 - Very High

"While the situation is improving with case rates down 13.4%, case rates and test positivity are both very high across this area (391/100,000 and 11.1% respectively)," the Department of Health said.

"The pressure on the local NHS remains very high, including in units treating the more serious cases," it added.

Derby and Derbyshire - Tier 3 - Very High

"There has been improvement in this area, but case rates remain very high at 275 per 100,000, and in those over 60 it is 220 per 100,000."

"The pressure on the local NHS remains high."

Warwickshire, Solihull and Coventry - Tier 3 - Very High

The Department of Health said: "The case rate remains very high (though falling) across this area at 236/100,000.

"The case rate in over 60s remains very high at 182/100,000. There is a clear upward trend in case rates in over 60s in 3 of the 7 local authority areas. Positivity is 9.0%.

"The pressure on the local NHS remains high."

Lincolnshire - Tier 3 - Very High

Earlier on Thursday, Lincolnshire County Council’s leader has described the county being placed under Tier 3 restrictions as "disappointing" and said "it doesn’t make sense".

Cllr Martin Hill said: “It’s very disappointing that the whole of Lincolnshire has gone into Tier 3 as we are seeing infection rates fall, especially in those few districts that were previously causing concern – and this could have a crippling effect on our hospitality sector.

"Although our figures have been high in some districts and lower elsewhere, there’s a clear levelling off and drop in the numbers as the lockdown restrictions and the considerable efforts of our residents begin to take effect."

However the Department of Health said: "There has been an overall improvement, but case rates remain high throughout the county, at 307 per 100,000 and in the over 60s it is 281 per 100,000."

"NHS pressures in Lincolnshire remain high and show signs of increasing, particularly for the units treating the more serious cases."

Northamptonshire - Tier 2 - High

Although improvements in the overall case rates have been seen recently, there is a continued rise in rates of Covid-19 in the over 60s.

"Over 60s case rate is 154 per 100,000. There is some evidence that the local NHS is seeing the proportion of people with Covid-19 being admitted and subsequently occupying beds stabilising, however Covid and non-Covid patients occupying beds in units treating more serious cases is high," the Department of Health said.

Rutland - Tier 2 - High

"This area is improving with a case rate of 125 per 100,000 and 118 per 100,000 for the over 60s, which while elevated is different from the surrounding areas. Positivity is 6.4%."

Worcestershire - Tier 2 - High

While there has been a decline in case rates in all lower tier local authorities they do remain high (201/100,000),including in the over 60s (141/100,000).

The Department of Health said: "These case rates are too high for allocation to tier 1 but the downward trajectory – with a fall of 18.3% - does currently not warrant inclusion in tier 3.

"Hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 have started to stabilise."

Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin - Tier 2 - High

The case rate remains high (though falling) at 200/100,000.

The Department of Health said: "The case rate in over 60s remains high at 139/100.000 and is falling. Positivity is 7.2%."