It was confirmed yesterday by Health secretary Matt Hancock that Leeds would remain in Tier 3 following a review of coronavirus restrictions across England.
Whilst the city remains in the Very High alert level which it was placed in after the second national lockdown, it was only one of few major cities in the country to avoided the strict Tier 4 (Stay At Home) level desperate bid to slow the spread of a highly-infectious mutant coronavirus strain.
This means that the current restrictions in Leeds will not change – for now.
Elsewhere, however, an additional 20 million people in the country were plunged into Tier 4.
It means a total of 44 million people, or 78% of the population of England, will be living under the country’s toughest restrictions from Thursday as the whole of the UK battles a winter surge.
All of England, except the Isles of Scilly, will be in Tiers 3 or 4. No places will be in Tier 2. Only the Isles of Scilly will be in Tier 1 as of New Year’s Eve following Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement in the Commons on Wednesday.
No areas moved down a tier.
The Midlands, the North East, parts of the North West, including Greater Manchester, and parts of the South West of England will go into Tier 4.
Why did Leeds escape Tier 4?
78% of the country is now in Tier 4
Whilst it is certainly good news to know that Leeds have avoided the toughest restrictions, there is a large indication that the tide has begun to turn in city, and across Yorkshire – and not for the better.
After weeks of infection rates declining and cases slowing down both are starting to creep up once again.
Leeds will have escaped Tier 4 largely because of it’s comparison to other areas of England, Yorkshire’s figures are much less worrying.
Elsewhere the figures are more stark with rates of infection in England on average rising by 60 percent in the last week.
The average rate, 331.8 cases per 100,000 people, is much higher than that seen in Yorkshire.
Leeds has now recorded 40,866 positive cases of coronavirus, making the city the worst-affected area in Yorkshire. Tragically, 671 people have lost their lives with coronavirus in Leeds hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic.
Leeds’ current infection rate, however, stands at 181.2. Whilst this was a significant rise from previous weeks, it still remains far less serious than areas in Yorkshire.
Leeds coronavirus infection rates in comparison to Tier 4 cities
Surprisingly, Leeds and Manchester have an identical infection rate. However, one city was moved into Tier 4, whilst another remained in Tier 3.
Below shows cities in Tier 4 and their infection rates in comparison to Leeds, and other areas in Yorkshire which have remained in Tier 3.
Here is the list in full. From left to right, it reads: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 26; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 26; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 19; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 19.
Nottingham 223.5, (744), 229.2, (763)
Sunderland 208.9, (580), 168.9, (469)
Manchester 191.0, (1056), 186.7, (1032)
North East Derbyshire 185.3, (188)
South Somerset 178.8, (301), 156.8, (264)
Oldham 170.4, (404), 208.8,
Bolton 170.1, (489), 157.9, (454)
Newcastle upon Tyne (140.7, (426), 144.0, (436)
York 264.9, (558), 126.8, (267) ↑
Hull 235.6, (612), 242.5, (630)
A coronavirus vaccine
Richmondshire 221.5, (119), 135.9, (73)
Doncaster 220.9, (689), 213.9, (667)
Scarborough 213.3, (232), 274.0, (298)
Barnsley 210.2, (519), 185.5, (458)
Rotherham 199.3, (529), 235.5, (625)
Leeds 191.0, (1515), 144.9, (1149)
Calderdale 174.5, (369), 152.3, (322)
Bradford 172.7, (932), 164.5, (888)
Kirklees 160.3, (705), 159.2, (700)
Harrogate 126.2, (203), 88.3, (142)
Could Leeds still be placed in Tier 4?
With the new UK strain, which is up to 70 percent more transmissible, and is expected to become the more dominant in the coming weeks, continuing to see rises in infection rates and cases across the country, it is very likely that Leeds’ infection rates could be much higher than as it currently stands.
If this is to be the case, then Leeds could be placed into Tier 4 as early as in 14 days.
The regulations require the government to review the allocations at least every two weeks.
But at this point, it is unclear whether Leeds, or other areas in Yorkshire, will be moved into Tier 4 – or even the mooted Tier 5 restrictions, by January 13.
Prof Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, said widespread Tier Four restrictions – or even higher – are likely to be needed as the country moves towards “near-lockdown”.
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He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic and we’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.
“I think we’re really looking at a situation where we’re moving into near-lockdown, but we’ve got to learn the lessons from the first lockdown.”