Local action is vital to our strategy of suppressing the virus, while protecting the economy, education and the NHS, until a vaccine can make us safe. Help is on its way thanks to the rollout of a safe and effective vaccine, but we are not there yet.
While we have moved to a localised approach through the tiers system, we have been clear that these must be tough, recognising that case rates are rising in many areas of the country, and our knowledge that the winter months are the most challenging for our NHS.
We have assessed each area individually, and as Monday's decisions on Essex and today's decisions on Waverley and parts of Hampshire show, we are prepared to move at a more localised level where the data and human geographies permit.
As set out in the COVID-19 Winter Plan, there are five indicators which guide our decisions for any given area, alongside consideration of ‘human geographies’ like travel patterns.
- Case detection rates in all age groups
- Case detection rates in the over 60s
- The rate at which cases are rising or falling
- Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- Pressure on the NHS.
While each metric is important in its own right, the interplay between each indicator for a given area is equally important, so a hard and fast numerical threshold on each metric is not appropriate.
These are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice, and the best possible data from the JBC.
The regulations will require the Government to review the allocations at least every 14 days. We will also take urgent action when the data suggests it is required, as we did on Monday.
The first formal review took place yesterday, and the allocations and a detailed rationale is attached.
I will also deposit the data packs used to inform these decisions in the libraries of both Houses.
These changes will be implemented from 00:01 on 19 December. This list will also be published on GOV.UK and a postcode checker will be available for the public to check what rules apply in their local area.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords