Why is Sussex in tier 2 and how does it move to tier 1? Matt Hancock explains decision

New social restrictions announced by the Government today has seen regions across the UK placed into one of three tiers once lockdown ends.

From December 2, Sussex will join the vast majority of the country by moving into tier two, meaning it is an area on ‘high alert’.

That will see households still unable to mix indoors, the rule of six applied outdoors and pubs only able to serve alcohol with ‘substantial meals’.

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Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock to explain the decision in Parliament earlier today (November 26).

Ms Ghani questioned why Sussex was placed in tier two despite all five indicators used to gauge the infection’s spread being ‘extremely low’.

The five indicators are:

- Case detection rates

- Case detection rates in over 60s

- Whether the R number/infection rate is increasing or decreasing

- The current and potential pressure on the NHS

- The positivity rate, i.e. the number of positive Covid-19 tests as a proportion of the number of tests being carried out

“We are deeply disappointed that, considering all of the five indicators where we mark extremely low, we are in Tier 2,” she said.

“And we are disappointed that central government has not consulted with these local leaders, because then they would have been able to investigate the data and hopefully show us how we can move into Tier 1.

“Can I ask my right honourable friend (Mr Hancock) to provide some assurances that these conversations will take place with local leaders, and also confirm that transparent, objective criteria will be published for each tier, and also how we can slide between each tier.”

Mr Hancock agreed he could give both assurances Ms Ghani requested, but said the county’s infection rate was too high for it to be considered a ‘medium alert’ tier 1 area.

He said: “Across Sussex case rates are at 120. They do need to come down.

“Like her (referring to Ms Ghani) I’d like to see Sussex get to Tier 1 as soon as is possible and we’ll keep talking to the local area.

“All directors of public health have been invited to discussions and consultations with the public health team, and that feedback has been fed into these decisions.

“But we’ve got to make sure those conversations continue.

“And the key message to everybody across Sussex, and in Wealden in particular, is that if we all stick together and we all follow the rules then we know we can get this virus under control.

“And that will then lead directly to the lifting of restrictions which we will regularly review.”

The tier system is set to be reviewed every two weeks, so Sussex could see its tier change on December 16 depending on how it performs against the five indicators listed above.