Greater Manchester will be placed in Tier 3 of the government’s strengthened tier system when national lockdown ends on December 2, it has been confirmed.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in Parliament this morning.

The tougher system, which sees harsher controls on the hospitality industry than before is based on the latest available data, the government said.

Greater Manchester had been in Tier 3 before the lockdown after reporting some of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country.

Things have changed in the last week, with the regional rate falling from 432 cases per 100,000 people to 276.

But this remains above the national average and the region's hospitals remain under strain from the number of cases.

In his written statement to the House of Commons, Matt Hancock said his rationale for putting Greater Manchester in Tier 3 was: "While there has been continued improvement in Greater Manchester, weekly case rates remain very high, especially amongst those aged over 60, at around 260 per 100,000 people.

"The pressure on the local NHS is decreasing in some areas but remains a concern; Manchester University hospital and Pennine Acute Trust remain under significant pressure."

What are the Tier 3 rules?

Tier 3 will once again see the strictest measure. They are:

  • Household mixing will be banned indoors and in most outdoor areas, such as beer gardens.
  • The rule of six will apply in certain public outdoor areas, such as parks and beaches.
  • Some businesses will have to close under Tier 3. These include hotels and other accommodation, indoor entertainment venues and hospitality venues such as casinos, bowling alleys, cinemas and theatre.
  • Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants will be closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
  • Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close.
  • There should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport can continue. Large outdoor events should not take place.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
  • Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place
  • Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors
  • Avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey

Could the situation change?

More places have been placed in the higher tier Tier 3 category - which bans household mixing indoors and means pubs and restaurants can only remain open for takeaways.

The first review of the tier allocations announced today will take place by December 16.

This will allow for areas where the infection rate is decreasing to be moved down a tier before Christmas.

Though areas can also be moved up a tier if the virus is spreading.

Decisions on which areas are in which tiers were made by ministers based on public health recommendations through a 'national command structure'.

The factors that determine the tier will be the case detection rate, how quickly cases are rising or falling, positivity in the general population and pressure on the NHS.

Infection rates in all 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester have fallen

The government will also take into consideration 'local context and exceptional circumstances' such as local but contained outbreaks.

Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

“I know for those of you faced with tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”

In Tier 3 areas, a six-week rapid community testing programme will be rolled out using the NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces.

Rapid tests that can produce a result within an hour will also be used.

Local authorities facing tougher restrictions will also receive extra money from the government to help manage the cost of tackling Covid-19.

Those in Tier 3 will get funding amounting to £4 per head of population per month, and for those in Tier 2 it will amount to £2 per head.