Heat map reveals 200 towns and cities with high Covid infection rates

Is Boris Johnson going to shut YOUR pubs, bars and restaurants? Heat map reveals the 200 towns and cities with high Covid-19 infection rates that could be plunged into Number 10’s new three-tier traffic light lockdown

  • PM has signed off a new ‘traffic light’ system of curbs that break down country into severity of Covid-19 risk
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes in areas in the highest tier will have to close for 16 days as part of draconian rules
  • Map shows 202 towns and cities fall into harshest tier because they are reporting over 50 cases per 100,000

A coronavirus heat map which breaks down infection rates across England has revealed the 200-plus towns and cities that could be at risk of being plunged into Boris Johnson’s new three-tier lockdown.

The PM has signed off a new ‘traffic light’ system of curbs that will see the country broken down into categories of high, medium or low risk from Monday, after days of bitter wrangling between ministers and scientists,

Hospitality businesses in ‘red’ zones are set to be shut under the tougher measures, likely to be confirmed Monday and imposed from Wednesday — but shops, offices and schools will stay open. Ministers are still mulling the fate of hairdressers and leisure facilities but Chancellor Rishi Sunak will bring forward a special furlough-style compensation scheme for workers and firms hammered by the curbs.

Merseyside and other parts of northern England are expected to be placed in the harshest bracket, with hospitals admissions and infections continuing to spike, despite local lockdowns being in place for weeks. The Government has not revealed its threshold for its three-tier system. 

But the most up-to-date Covid-19 infection rate data shows 201 towns, cities and boroughs saw at least 50 cases for every 100,000 people in the week up to October 4. For comparison, nationwide, England’s infection rate is 59 per 100,000.

The majority of areas with high cases are in the North, where the virus has taken hold after migrating from London, the UK’s former epicentre, during the first wave. Liverpool, Knowsley and Manchester — where more than 550 people are testing positive per 100,000 of the population — and Newcastle (480 per 100,000) are expected to be the first places to be hit by the draconian measures.

Leeds, which recorded 364 cases per 100,000 people last week, are also likely to be among the cities at the top of Number 10’s lockdown list, alongside is Rochdale (325), Salford (302), Bradford (282), West Lancashire (280), Bolton (255), Middlesbrough (250), and Blackburn (249). 

Although there is a clear North-South coronavirus divide in England, there are still towns and cities in southern parts that are struggling to keep a lid on outbreaks. Brentwood (78 per 100,000), in Essex, Bristol (61) and Brighton (60) all fall into the harshest tier, according to the map. Every London borough is also being monitored closely by health bosses because infection rates are above 50 per 100,000. 

Conservative MPs and local leaders in the North have been venting fury about the government’s stance, with former minister Jake Berry accusing the premier of being ‘London-centric’ and enjoying his sweeping emergency powers ‘a little bit too much’.

Politicians in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield raged at ‘diktats announced without notice’ and said ministers were treating the North like a ‘petri dish for experimentation’ while the South gets off lightly.

But Mr Johnson is coming under massive pressure from scientists to go further and impose a blanket nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown similar to that dramatically announced by Nicola Sturgeon yesterday. For 16 days from tomorrow pubs and restaurants in Scotland are being banned from serving alcohol indoors and must close by 6pm. In large areas north of the border hospitality venues are being told to shut altogether. 

It comes as Britain today recorded 17,540 more cases of coronavirus, with the number of people testing positive for the disease every day having nearly tripled in a fortnight.There were 6,634 diagnoses of the disease two weeks ago, on September 24, which is the most recent point of reference after a counting blunder at Public Health England (PHE) made last week’s data invalid. 

Another 77 coronavirus deaths were also announced today, up by 30 per cent on last week’s 59 fatalities and 92 per cent higher than the number of victims posted the Thursday before, when there were 40 deaths. Data shows the rolling seven-day average number of daily deaths is 56, up from a record-low of seven in mid-August.

It came as the Prime Minister  faced fury from Northerners and a massing Tory revolt today following news that 10million people in Covid hotspots will be put into even tougher lockdown restrictions next week.

The mechanism for classifying ‘red’ zones are still unclear, but they are expected to cover Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle – three cities that have continued to see infection rises despite local lockdowns. 

The government’s SAGE group is meeting this afternoon, with one member, Professor John Edmunds, saying a short sharp shock was needed to ‘stop the epidemic from getting out of control in the next few weeks or months and overwhelming the health service’.

‘We are not that far away from that. I hate to be gloomy, but in the North of England now we are not that far away from the health service being stretched,’ he told a Royal Society of Medicine webinar.

Prof Edmunds denied scientists were ‘holding a gun to the PM’s head’ on the restrictions. ‘It’s the virus holding a gun to the PM’s head,’ he said.

There was a slight relief for Mr Johnson this afternoon as Keir Starmer backed off a confrontation over the blanket 10pm pubs curfew – which critics say is making matters worse – to get the plans through Parliament. The Labour leader said his MPs will not oppose the measure in a crunch vote next week, although he wants the policy reviewed.

Two-thirds of public would back Scottish-style ‘circuit breaker’ nationwide lockdown

An exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found strong support for a nationwide ‘short sharp shock’ of tough restrictions across the country in a bid to break transmission chains

Nearly two-thirds of the public would back a Scottish-style ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as Boris Johnson prepares to shut pubs and restaurants in the North.

An exclusive poll for MailOnline has found strong support for a ‘short sharp shock’ of tough restrictions across the country in a bid to break transmission chains.

The research by Redfield &Wilton Strategies also uncovered widespread confusion and disaffection with the current complex local curbs. 

Around a third of Birtons are not confident they know the rules in their area, while half admit they have not been following them fully.

Red Wall rage at PM’s lockdown in the North 

The extent of anger among Tories – and crucially MPs from the ‘Red Wall’ of former Labour seats that delivered Mr Johnson his stunning majority in December – was on display last night as the Commons debated the local restrictions. 

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who was Northern Powerhouse minister under Theresa May,  said: ‘I think the Government has fallen into that fatal trap of making national decisions based on a London-centric view with London data.’

He raised concerns over liberties and freedoms adding: ‘Day by day we see those liberties and freedoms being given away back to the Government in the name of Covid.

‘I’m afraid that has to stop, because once we give these up they will not come back to us, the Government will not return them to us.’

He added: ‘The worst of society is the Government enjoying these new powers a little bit too much.

‘Police officers fining people for being in their front gardens, a bizarre ban on sunbathing on your own in public open spaces.’

Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwhich Dr Kieran Mullan called for the Government to ‘work harder’ at proving its policies are evidence-based and effective.

Dehenna Davison, who took the Bishop Auckland constituency into Tory hands for the first time in history, highlighted the difficulties for a pub landlord who made his premises Covid-secure but has seen his takings fall dramatically.

Ms Davison said: ‘Last weekend he told me rather than his usual Saturday take of £5,000 to £6,000, he took only £128 all day – not even enough to cover his entire staffing bill.

‘Between the 10 o’clock curfew and the lack of households being able to meet, I’m really concerned these restrictions without additional financial support may have the overall impact of closing pubs not just for lockdown but for good.’

Cabinet divisions led to a delay in the introduction of the new three-tier system, with the overhaul originally set to be introduced today.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other ‘hawks’ alarmed about the impact on the economy clashed with ‘doves’ Matt Hancock and Michael Gove over elements of the plan.

Mr Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma pushed for more clarity about the triggers for lockdown and argued that more social distancing restrictions should not be uniformly applied across regions.

On the other hand, Mr Hancock and Mr Gove argued that allowing even minor flexibility would undermine the effort to clarify the public health message.

A meeting on Monday broke up without agreement – but the PM signed off on the new ‘traffic light’ arrangements along with a compensation package last night.

It is expected to be unveiled formally on Monday, and take effect from Wednesday.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick came close to confirming this morning that action is looming on pubs and restaurants.

‘It is correct to say the number of cases in the North West and the North East and a number of cities, particularly in the Midlands like Nottingham, are rising fast and that is a serious situation,’ he said.

‘We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly.

‘But I’m not able to give you right now exactly what is going to happen.’

Asked if there will be an announcement linked to the hospitality trade next week, Mr Jenrick said: ‘We are considering the evidence. In some parts of the country, the number of cases are rising very fast and we are taking that very seriously.

‘If we do have to take further steps, then obviously we will take very seriously how we can help and support those individual businesses.’

The Chancellor is thought to have won the right to be consulted before businesses in the hospitality sector are shut down because of the implications for public spending.

One source told The Times: ‘There’s been unease about the way decisions are happening. It’s opaque. Rishi was pushing for clearer lines.’

The extent of anger among Tories – and crucially MPs from the ‘Red Wall’ of former Labour seats that delivered Mr Johnson his stunning majority in December – was on display last night as the Commons debated the local restrictions. 

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who was Northern Powerhouse minister under Theresa May,  said: ‘I think the Government has fallen into that fatal trap of making national decisions based on a London-centric view with London data.’

He raised concerns over liberties and freedoms adding: ‘Day by day we see those liberties and freedoms being given away back to the Government in the name of Covid.

‘I’m afraid that has to stop, because once we give these up they will not come back to us, the Government will not return them to us.’

He added: ‘The worst of society is the Government enjoying these new powers a little bit too much.

‘Police officers fining people for being in their front gardens, a bizarre ban on sunbathing on your own in public open spaces.’

Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwhich Dr Kieran Mullan called for the Government to ‘work harder’ at proving its policies are evidence-based and effective.

Dehenna Davison, who took the Bishop Auckland constituency into Tory hands for the first time in history, highlighted the difficulties for a pub landlord who made his premises Covid-secure but has seen his takings fall dramatically.

Ms Davison said: ‘Last weekend he told me rather than his usual Saturday take of £5,000 to £6,000, he took only £128 all day – not even enough to cover his entire staffing bill.

‘Between the 10 o’clock curfew and the lack of households being able to meet, I’m really concerned these restrictions without additional financial support may have the overall impact of closing pubs not just for lockdown but for good.’

Liverpool’s Labour mayor Steve Rotheram told ITV’s GMB programme: ‘What we’ve seen is an ever-widening North-South divide in measures being taken. 

‘Quite simply the North should not be a petri dish for experimentation by central government.’ 

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: ‘No discussion. No consultation. 

‘Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government.’ 

But health minister Nadine Dorries gave the complaints short shrift. Taking to Twitter, she claimed the UK was just 10 days from being in a ‘critical stage’. 

‘Those who now claim that further measures are not needed, will in about ten days from now, when hospital admissions are at a critical stage argue that we didn’t do enough. We must do all we can to prevent our ICUs #NHS from becoming overwhelmed #COVID19,’ she wrote.

Leaked documents obtained by the Nottingham Post reveal that the city and surrounding areas are set to be added to the Tier 2 restrictions. 

Sent to senior figures in the city and county, they make clear households will not be able to mix in any indoor settings. 

‘Our current expectation is that the approach will be announced on Monday, October 12 with the new standardised regulations coming into force on Wednesday October 14,’ the document said.

It also suggested that the Tier 3 restrictions might not have been completely sealed.

‘Level One and Two measures have now been signed off by Covid O committee but there is further work ongoing on Level 3,’ the letter said. 

Meanwhile, the backlash against Ms Sturgeon’s move has been gathering pace in Scotland.

UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod today warned that many businesses won’t survive the new restrictions on hospitality and licensed trade north of the border and said tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. 

And Kate Nicholls, CEO of the association in England, urged the government to consider ‘more substantive support’. 

She told BBC Radio 4: ‘In Scotland £40million between 16,000 licenced premises equates to just over £2,000 for those people. It barely keeps the lights on let alone saves a job.’

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