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Time-lapse display of the growth of the coronavirus in early December, showing the south-east of England and south Wales becoming blackspots. The situation also worsened over much of the UK (source: UK government).

Coronavirus statistical update: Hastings and Rother into Tier 4 as new variant comes into play

The rapidly worsening state of the coronavirus in Hastings and Rother has led to these areas being placed in a newly created Tier 4, in a move which will wreck many residents’ Christmas plans. Nick Terdre reports, research and graphics by Russell Hall.

After just one day in Tier 3, which was announced by the government on Thursday and came into effect on Saturday, Hastings and Rother have been moved into the newly created Tier 4, along with other regions in London, the South East and East of England which were similarly assigned to Tier 3 last week. Meanwhile the remainder of East Sussex – Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden – stay in Tier 2.

Tier 4 measures, which took effect on Sunday, are broadly equivalent to those applying during the second national lockdown in November: non essential retail, along with indoor hospitality and entertainment venues, must close, indoor meetings with anyone who is not part of your bubble are banned, and outdoor meetings are limited to two people.

At a hastily convened press conference on Saturday afternoon, prime minister Boris Johnson explained that urgent action was called for due to the accelerating rate of infections in the affected areas caused by a new variant of the Covid-19 virus.

Shopping activity was muted in Priory Meadow at Saturday lunchtime – it might have been different if shoppers had realised that non essential outlets would be closed down in a few hours’ time.

This may be up to 70% more transmissible than the prevalent strain, raising the prospect that it could push up the R value – the measure of the average number of people to whom an infected individual passes on the virus – by as much as 0.4. The latest estimate of R, released on Friday,was 1.1-1.3 for both England and the South East. The daily growth rate for the South East of +3% to +5% indicates that it is expected to continue growing.

The detection of a new strain with enhanced powers of transmission helps explain the boom in new cases in Hastings and Rother. It also seems to scotch the notion that local residents have become complacent or been “lulled into a false sense of security,” as recently suggested by Hastings council leader Kim Forward.

The new strain is not however thought to cause more severe illness or to increase the likelihood of a fatal outcome, nor is it considered that the anti Covid-19 vaccines developed to date will be less effective.

“I know this is incredibly tough for everyone, residents and businesses, however we knew that as we approached the winter months of January and February, the NHS was going to be under incredible pressure and the virus would hold the upper hand,” said Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart.

“I know this will be disappointing and frustrating news with all the plans that have been made. But we must get control of this virus. Now that the vaccine is being rolled out, we can see hope lies ahead in 2021, but we cannot throw away all our hard effort of the last 10 months in this final stretch.”

The next review of tier allocations will take place on 30 December. By then many people’s Christmas plans will have been scuppered – Tier 4 residents are urged to keep travel and social contact to a minimum, and in any case not to spend any nights away from home. And the relaxation of restrictions over the five-day Christmas period has been scrapped for them. Elsewhere in England it has been reduced to one day only – Christmas Day.

The new restrictions are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, health secretary Matt Hancock was reported as saying today. They have been introduced without any reference to Parliament, which is expected to consider them after it reconvenes in January.


In Hastings 92 new cases of infection were reported on 19 December, and the seven-day case total to 15 December, as reported to 19 December, was 712.3, more than double the 348.6 total in the previous seven-day period. New cases in Rother were 72, and its seven-day total to 15 December 496.5 (239.4 – also more than double).

The incidence of coronavirus elsewhere in East Sussex continues to grow but at lower rates: the seven-day rate to 15 December for Eastbourne was 237.1, up from 75.2, Lewes 168.5 (up from 63.9), and Wealden 239.1 (up from 120.1). East Sussex as a whole had a rate of 348.7, up from 159.9, and well above the 259.6 rate for England.

Admissions of Covid-19 patients to East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals in the seven days to 15 December totalled 77, against 49 in the previous seven days. As reported on 18 December, there were 156 patients with coronavirus in hospital but only 16 on mechanical ventilation. In the seven days to 18 December ESHT reported 8 deaths.

Both Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council posted brief acknowledgements of Hastings’ and Rother’s assignment to Tier 4. ESCC included the main guidelines for both Tier 4 and Tier 2 which continues to apply in the other East Sussex local authorities.

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Posted 16:15 Sunday, Dec 20, 2020 In: Covid-19

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Catherine Taylor

    Thank you Russell Hall and Nick Terdre for your consistent posting of facts and figures on the unfolding situation.
    It has been very good to have a reliable source of information on local infection rates.
    Information can assist each of us to measure risk and respond to new developments.

    Comment by Catherine Taylor — Monday, Dec 21, 2020 @ 22:24

  2. DAR

    Thanks for info, Nick & Russell. It’s all very frightening and disappointing at the same time. Apparently, the number of civilians who have died in this country because of this pandemic now exceeds those civilians who died in Britain as a result of enemy attacks in WW2.

    Comment by DAR — Monday, Dec 21, 2020 @ 11:21

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