This is what ministers will consider before moving York into the ‘high’ lockdown tier

Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons. Photograph: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

York has a high and rising Covid-19 infection rate – but it has been put in the lowest tier of the government’s three new restrictions. Why?

York’s director of public health Sharon Stoltz has now explained. As well as the rate of cases per 100,000 people, she said the Government also looks at how local hospitals, GP practices and care homes are coping when areas are put into different tiers.

And that York does NOT have influence over what tier the government decides to put the city into.

She said: “When the government is deciding which tier local authorities might go into, they look at what’s happening with the NHS and care homes.

“Other areas have significantly higher impacts on the NHS than in York. Yes, our case numbers are increasing and we need to halt that rise and reverse it, but we are not yet seeing a significant impact on the NHS and York Hospital.

“We don’t really have much influence locally over what decision the government makes about what tier we are in.”

The three-tier lockdown

Ms Stoltz outlined the government’s decision process at a council question and answer session yesterday evening, saying: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre will be reviewing all of the data – York case numbers, the age pattern, the number of outbreaks we are having and impacts on the NHS, GP practices and the hospital.

“The Joint Biosecurity Centre will then make a recommendation to the national silver committee as to whether York, or any particular area, should remain in tier one or increase based on the epidemiology [public health data].

“Silver will review and make a recommendation to the national gold committee, which has the Secretary of State and other ministers on it, including advisors from SAGE and the Chief Medical Officer and others.

“That committee will then review all of the information they have about York.

“We will be informed of that decision as an authority. We may be asked for our views along the way but it’s not our decision.”