What Covid-19 alert level 5 means and how it’s different from Tier 5

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The UK's coronavirus alert level has been raised to five, which is the highest possible setting.

This means there is a "material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed" and the strictest social distancing measures must be followed.

It comes as Boris Johnson is expected to plunge the whole of England into a Tier 4 lockdown in an announcement at 8pm tonight.

Level 5 means that cases are spiralling out of control, there is a strong risk of the NHS being overwhelmed, and urgent action must be taken.

This is the first time in the pandemic that the alert level has been this high.

Here's what that means in practice, and how it's different from a Tier 5.

What does alert level 5 mean?

In May the government unveiled a system to assess the risk of coronavirus, and decide how strict lockdown measures needed to be.

The colour coded system has five levels:

  • Level five (red) – a "material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed" – extremely strict social distancing
  • Level four – a high or rising level of transmission – enforced social distancing
  • Level three – the virus is in general circulation – social distancing relaxed
  • Level two – the number of cases and transmission are low – minimal social distancing
  • Level one (green) – Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK – no social distancing

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) is in charge of deciding the country's coronavirus alert level.

The government then uses this alert level to decide which lockdown measures need to be imposed.

The JBC uses the national R Rate and the number of coronavirus cases to make its decision on what the alert level should be.

Is this Tier 5?

No, the alert level system is different from the government's tiered lockdown. It is set by scientists and refers to the threat of the epidemic.

The government will use this alert to decide whether they need to make adjustments to the country's lockdown rules.

It's expected that Boris Johnson will plunge the rest of the country into the strict Tier 4 this evening – effectively a third national lockdown.

A record 58,784 cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK today, and another 407 people tragically lost their lives.

  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Boris Johnson

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