On 30 July, after the weekly rate of Covid-19 cases in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire reached 66.6 per 100,000 people, local restrictions were imposed on the area with a few hours’ notice from central government. The situation was clearly seen as urgent. “We’re constantly vigilant and we’ve been looking at the data,” the Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained at the time, concluding: “We need to take action.”
But if the same threshold were applied across the UK this evening, a further 8.7 million people in England and Wales would be subject to a local lockdown tomorrow. Data analysis by the New Statesman shows that in the week to Friday 2 October, 47 local authorities that do not currently have restrictions in place have already surpassed the rate that has forced large areas of the country to go into local lockdown.
Among these is Nottingham, where 1,159 new cases of Covid-19 had been recorded over the previous seven days. The city has a higher rate than all but five other areas of the country, but it does not to have localised measures in place.
No official list of conditions for local lockdowns has been released. The government has previously defended its use of local lockdowns by saying that it considers many sources of data – some of which are not publicly available – when making the decision about whether to introduce local measures. But it is clear that some areas are going into local lockdowns while others that have more confirmed cases are not.
Whether this is due to a lack of transparency or inconsistency, there is a risk that any perceived unfairness could fuel discontent and reduce public cooperation when new local measures are imposed – as they will be in many areas in the weeks and months to come.
The New Statesman’s data team has created a local lockdown prediction tool which uses live data to assess each area’s chance of being put into local lockdown. Search your postcode here to get the latest data for your local authority.