THIS map shows the areas most at risk of being pushed into tougher Covid-19 restrictions if infections don't fall.
Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, York and Hambleton in North Yorks., are the areas with the highest infection rates in Tier 3 – and some have higher rates than Tier 4 areas.
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Analysis of the latest infection data up to December 28 shows case rates in Tier 3 areas have gone up in all but one area – Scarborough – on the week before.
Bromsgrove in Worcestershire has the highest Tier 3 infection rate – 328.4 in the seven days to December 28, up from 249.3 the previous week.
It is followed by York (320.5) and Hambleton (312.2) in North Yorkshire.
The Wirral in Merseyside is next with a rate of 303.1, followed by Halton in Cheshire (279.7) as confirmed cases rise across the Liverpool City Region.
There are currently four tiers under the government's system, with Tier 4 meaning that all non-essential shops are closed, as well as gyms.
The Government moved about 22 million more people in England into Tier 4 on New Year's Eve – and the next tier review is scheduled to take place on January 13.
How rules differ between Tier 3 and 4
- In Tier 4, you must stay at home and should only leave to travel for education, childcare or exercise. And you can only meet one other person outdoors
- Brits in Tier 3 can leave the house as they choose, provided they follow social distancing guidelines. Households are banned from mixing indoors, but you can meet up to six people in public outdoor spaces such as parks.
- All shops, including non-essential retail such as toys, clothing and homeware, remain open in Tier 3 areas but are shut in Tier 4.
- Hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons and all entertainment venues are open in Tier 3, providing they operate under Covid safety guidelines – but must shut in Tier 4
- Gyms are open in Tier 3, but only for individual exercise with classes halted. They must remain shut in Tier 4
- Pubs, bars and restaurants remain closed in both tiers but can offer delivery or take-out options.
- In Tier 4, travel for some reasons – including education, childcare or an emergency – will be allowed.
- People in Tier 4 and Tier 3 can still go to work – but only as a last resort if they cannot work from home
The latest infection figures, released on Friday for the seven days to December 28, reveal both the rate and number of new cases per 100,000 people.
They also show how those figures compare to the previous week.
Of the 315 local areas in England, 233 (74%) have seen a rise in case rates on the previous week, while 77 (24%) have seen a fall, and five are unchanged, analysis by the Mirror shows.
Thurrock in Essex has the highest rate, with 2,161 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 28 – the equivalent of 1,239.5 cases per 100,000 people.
This is down from 1,392.7 in the seven days to December 21.
Epping Forest, also in Essex, has the second highest rate, down from 1,401.0 to 1,224.1, with 1,612 new cases.
Castle Point, again in Essex, is in third place, where the rate has fallen slightly from 1,229.3 to 1,207.2, with 1,091 new cases.
The areas recording the biggest week-on-week jumps are Rushmoor (up from 529.6 to 817.1, with 773 new cases); Carlisle (up from 253.0 to 538.3, with 585 new cases); and Watford (up from 633.7 to 867.7, with 838 new cases).
The 10 highest infected areas in Tier 3
From left to right: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 28; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 28; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 21; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 21.
- Bromsgrove, 328.4, (328), 249.3, (249)
- York, 320.5, (675), 170.9, (360)
- Hambleton, 312.2, (286), 148.5, (136)
- Wirral, 303.1, (982), 170.7, (553)
- Halton, 279.7, (362), 192.4, (249)
- Richmondshire, 268.0, (144), 156.3, (84)
- North Somerset, 255.8, (550), 201.8, (434)
- Knowsley, 253.9, (383), 155.1, (234)
- Sefton, 249.3, (689), 148.3, (410)
- Liverpool, 241.7, (1204), 184.9, (921)
Earlier this week, authorities in Essex were forced to call in the army after declaring a major incident at their crippled hospitals with patients being treated in the back of ambulances.
Health authorities have also warned NHS workers are facing having to make the "horrendous" life and death choice over which patients will be able to access ventilation if cases continue to soar.
It comes as 53,285 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK – a 63 per cent rise on last weeks figure.
The grim tally was the fourth day in a row which saw infections rise above 50,000 per day.
Another 613 more deaths were confirmed, bringing the total number of fatalities in Britain to 74,125.
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