Which areas could move up in coronavirus tiers?
With the rate of new cases of Covid-19 rising in nine out of 10 local authorities across England, some parts of the country might be about to see a change to their alert level.
Here is a region-by-region guide to which local areas could move into a new tier of restrictions.
In all examples, the latest rates are for the seven days to December 18.
– South-east England
The south-east is currently split between Tier 4 and Tier 2, with the Isle of Wight alone in Tier 1.
But while a number of counties are entirely within one tier, others are split between different tiers, and many local areas in Tier 2 share borders with those in Tier 4.
In East Sussex, Wealden is currently in Tier 2, while neighbouring Rother is in Tier 4. The rate of new cases in Wealden has jumped week-on-week from 153.0 per 100,000 people to 351.8 – which is higher than other areas in the south-east that are in Tier 4. On this basis Wealden seems likely to be moved up a tier, possibly along with those other parts of East Sussex that are still in Tier 2 (Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and Lewes) where rates are also rising.
In Hampshire, Rushmoor looks set to move up from Tier 2, following a sharp rise in rates from 191.3 to 410.2. Gosport, Havant and Portsmouth are already in Tier 4, though rates in Gosport are lower (currently 165.0). The rest of Hampshire has similarly low rates and may stay in Tier 2.
Waverley is the only part of Surrey not in Tier 4, and while rates here are rising (from 132.2 to 237.5) they are not yet at levels seen in the rest of the county.
In Oxfordshire, Cherwell (where rates are currently 334.2) and Oxford (288.6) may move up from Tier 2, as could Crawley (260.7) and Mid Sussex (285.4) in West Sussex.
With the overall rate for south-east England up from 231.2 to 395.8, and the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 at a record high for the region, all the areas currently in Tier 4 are likely to stay in Tier 4 for the near future.
The whole of London is in Tier 4 and this is unlikely to change any time soon. The rate of new cases in London has more than doubled in a week from 300.8 to 619.7. While the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 in the capital is still well below the first wave peak of 5,201, it has risen sharply from 2,330 on December 14 to 3,367 on December 21.
– Eastern England
Like south-east England, Eastern England is currently divided between Tiers 2 and 4 with no areas in Tier 3.
Most of Essex is in Tier 4, the exceptions being Colchester, Tendring and Uttlesford. Cases are rising in all these areas, especially Uttlesford (up from 165.4 to 341.8), and it is likely all three will be moved up from Tier 2.
Norfolk and Suffolk could stay in Tier 2, with the possible exceptions of Babergh (259.7), Norwich (249.0) and Ipswich (244.0) where rates are rising faster than elsewhere.
The overall rate for Eastern England is up from 224.7 to 435.8, and there are a record number of Covid-19 patients in hospital. All those areas currently in Tier 4 – including the whole of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – are likely to remain there for some time.
– East Midlands
All of the East Midlands is currently in Tier 3 apart from Northamptonshire and Rutland.
Levels of new cases across the region are probably not yet high enough to see any area moving up to Tier 4, while the area with the highest rate, Boston in Lincolnshire, has actually seen its rate coming down (from 443.2 to 393.3).
Parts of Northamptonshire such as Northampton (where rates stand at 283.6) and Wellingborough (271.0) could be facing a move into Tier 3.
The regional rate for the East Midlands is well below those for the south and east of England, and has risen slightly week-on-week from 187.2 to 219.0.
– West Midlands
All of the West Midlands is currently in Tier 3 apart from Shropshire and Worcestershire which are in Tier 2, and Herefordshire in Tier 1.
The regional rate is similar to that in the East Midlands, up slightly from 181.4 to 222.7.
Some local areas are recording sharper increases, however.
In Rugby (Tier 3) the rate has jumped week-on-week from 151.5 to 377.3, while in Redditch (Tier 2) it has risen from 105.6 to 224.0.
Both areas might be candidates for moving up a tier, though if Rugby went into Tier 4 it would become the only place in the West Midlands to be in near total lockdown.
– South-west England
The whole of the south-west of England is in Tier 2, with two exceptions: South Gloucestershire (Tier 3) and Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly (Tier 1).
In the latest figures, the rate of new cases in South Gloucestershire is up from 155.4 to 191.5 – though this is below the current rates in Gloucester (242.4) and Forest of Dean (203.9), two areas that may soon be joining South Gloucestershire in Tier 3.
No other changes are likely. Although the total number of hospital patients with Covid-19 is now higher than during the first wave of the virus, south-west England continues to have the lowest rate of any region (134.5, up slightly from 91.3).
– Yorkshire & the Humber
All of this region is in Tier 3, except for North Yorkshire and York which are in Tier 2.
Some of the areas in Tier 3 currently have very low rates indeed, such as Wakefield (147.3), Leeds (142.6) and North East Lincolnshire (104.7).
The overall rate for the region is also low, and is up only slightly from 150.4 to 160.6.
The number of hospital patients in the combined region of Yorkshire and north-east England has fallen from a peak of 3,473 on November 16 to 2,530 on December 21.
These figures suggest no areas in this region are about to move up a tier – and some might even be moved down.
– North-east England
The whole of north-east England is in Tier 3.
Local rates are quite varied, however.
In Hartlepool the rate is currently 323.5, up from 225.3, while in Redcar and Cleveland is it 132.0, down from 137.8.
It feels unlikely any area in this region will be moved into Tier 4.
The regional rate currently stands at 183.9, up from 162.7.
– North-west England
North-west England is currently divided between Tier 3 and Tier 2.
Once again, there are considerable variations in case rates across the region.
Fylde in Tier 3 currently has a very low rate of 108.9, while for Eden in Tier 2 the figure is 294.8.
Burnley has seen its rate jump sharply from 309.3 to 446.5 and might be facing a move from Tier 3 to Tier 4.
Pendle is another candidate for Tier 4, where the rate has risen from 267.1 to 345.2.
The overall rate for north-west England has increased slightly from 142.1 to 176.3.
The number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 is down from a peak of 3,158 on November 16 to 2,399 on December 21.
The picture is so mixed in north-west England that any changes to the tiers might occur in only a handful of places rather than be applied right across the region.