May 12, 2021 11.24 am This story is over 14 months old

COVID-19 threat level three: A step closer to legalised hugging

What do the levels mean for Lincolnshire?

The Prime Minister announced this week the COVID-19 threat level will move from level four to three ahead of May 17, allowing dining inside restaurants, drinking in pubs, holidaying abroad and hugging loved ones, but people are urged to consider the vulnerabilities of others.

Level three means coronavirus is still in general circulation in the population, transmission is not rising and enables the gradual relaxation of restrictions. England was at the highest level (five) in early January and moved down to level four in late February, put down to successful social distancing as well as the vaccination programme.

However, in Greater Lincolnshire as of May 10, five of the nine districts were above the England average rate of infection – North Lincolnshire, South Holland and Boston have specifically been identified as having pockets of sharp cases of coronavirus cases.

South Kesteven and Lincoln City are also above the England average infection rate, with East Lindsey, North Kesteven, West Lindsey and North East Lincolnshire below.

Here’s Greater Lincolnshire’s infection rates up to May 10 according to the government’s dashboard:

Greater Lincolnshire’s infection rates from Apr 29 to May 10. | Data: Gov UK / Table: James Mayer for The Lincolnite

The five levels

The five colour-coded levels are determined by the COVID-19 reproduction (R) number, a measure of how fast the virus is spreading and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) set levels.

It’s important to note that a change of level doesn’t always mean restrictions will be relaxed – that is the government’s decision.

  • Level five (red) – a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”
  • Level four – a high or rising level of transmission
  • Level three – the virus is in general circulation
  • Level two – the number of cases and transmission are low
  • Level one (green) – COVID-19 no longer present in the UK

The five COVID threat levels. | Data: UK government / Graphic: BBC

This week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said over-35s will be invited to receive their first coronavirus vaccine dose “pretty soon” and rules on mask-wearing may change as soon as next month.

In response to level three, UK health bosses said: “Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and COVID hospital pressures have fallen consistently.

“However COVID is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant. This remains a major pandemic globally.”