The Government is due to confirm today which tier each region will be placed under following lockdown.
The national lockdown ends on December 2 and areas will then follow restrictions based on their given tiers.
If the North East goes into Tier 3, as has been widely expected, it will mean that pubs and restaurants will have to remain shut and that spectators will not be allowed back into football stadiums.
After a spike in cases at the start of this month’s four-week lockdown, infection rates across the region have seen significant falls over recent days.
Last week, Newcastle public health chief Prof Eugene Milne said infection rates would need to fall “significantly” to avoid the toughest post-lockdown measures, doubting that a sufficient drop to around 250 new cases per 100,000 people per week was possible.
An update is expected from Health Secretary Matt Hancock at around 11.30am.
Follow live updates below:
What are the Tier 3 rules?
What can we expect if we head into Tier 3 next week?
We've taken a look at what it means and what we are allowed to do.
Government accused of 'levelling down'
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has tweeted: “Places put into Tier 3 today will get no additional business support funding than those in Tier 1 or Tier 2. Can that possibly be fair? #LevellingDown.”
Plea for London to go in Tier 2
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on ministers not to put London in the highest tier.
The capital's mayor said the fact cases were lower in the city than other parts of the country meant it should be in Tier 2.
"Having looked at the evidence with public health and scientific experts, I firmly believe that it would be right and sensible for London to move into Tier 2 restrictions when the national lockdown is lifted next week — anything else simply wouldn’t make sense," he wrote in the Evening Standard.
"Cases in London are lower than in other parts of the country expected to enter Tier 2.
"While we cannot afford to be complacent, the very latest data is moving further in the right direction."
Tiers set to be in place until March
The tiers will be in place until March apart from a five-day break over Christmas.
But they will be reviewed every two weeks at least, with the first review due by December 16.
Announcement expected at 11.30am
They Press Association says Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make an announcement at 11.30am.
This is when he will reveal which areas will be placed in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.
We will have live coverage right here.
Boris Johnson to hold press conference
Boris Johnson will give a No10 press conference today after unveiling which lockdown tier will apply to every area of England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to present the full list of tiers by area to the Commons at 11.30am.
Ministers have warned people will be disappointed as the vast majority of England goes into Tier 2 or 3 - both of which ban socialising indoors.
The tiers will take effect at 12.01am on Wednesday 2 December, at the same time as England’s national lockdown ends.
Mr Johnson reportedly held a meeting last night to piece together the list of tiers and Cabinet get a final look at them this morning.
Now it’s been confirmed the Prime Minister will give a press conference on the new measures tonight, probably at 5pm.
Cases dropping across the North East
Here is the full list of infection rates in the North East, compared to the previous week.
The list is based on Public Health England figures updated on November 25 on the Government’s coronavirus online dashboard.
From left to right, it reads: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to November 21; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to November 21; rate of new cases in the seven days to November 14; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to November 14.
South Tyneside 347.7 (525 cases) - dropping from 415.3 (627 cases) the week before
Newcastle upon Tyne 319.7 (968 cases) - dropping from 449.1 (1,360 cases) the week before
Gateshead 290.0 (586 cases) - dropping from 411.3 (831 cases) the week before
North Tyneside 286.7 (596 cases) - dropping from 428.1 (890 cases) the week before
Sunderland 286.3 (795 cases) - dropping from 413.4 (1,148 cases) the week before
County Durham 280.5 (1,487 cases) - dropping from 396.5 (2,102 cases) the week before
Northumberland 240.7 (776 cases) - dropping from 292.2 (942 cases) the week before
Fall in cases may come too late
After a spike in cases at the start of this month’s four-week lockdown, infection rates across the North East have seen significant falls over recent days.
Newcastle City Council published figures on Wednesday afternoon stating that the average infection rate in the North East is now 279 new weekly cases per 100,000 people – compared to 295 on Tuesday and 398 a week ago.
Latest Public Health England data shows all seven authority areas in the region have recorded a decrease in cases with a 38% fall to 5,733 in the week leading to November 21 from 7,900 in the previous seven days.
The falling numbers have offered some small hope that the region might yet be able to claw its way into Tier 2, though local officials have suggested that the drop may have come too late.
Liverpool 'ready for Tier 2'
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said the virus has been brought back under control in the city, adding that it is now ready for Tier 2.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there have been no conversations about what tier the city will be in, but added: “I think the figures and the data justify Liverpool being at least, at least, in Tier 2.”
Asked if he would encourage other areas that are put in Tier 3 to put up with the restrictions, Mr Anderson said: “Yes, absolutely, because it’s about saving lives.
“There’s no question that the action that we’ve taken in Liverpool has saved lives.
“That’s what national government and local government should be about. It’s protecting your people and saving lives.”
Announcement expected this morning
It is thought the Health Secretary will make an announcement on the tiers this morning.
We will bring the latest on that live here and what it means for our region.
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Rapid testing programme in Tier 3 areas
Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.
The final decisions on the tiers will be made by the PM at the Covid Operations Committee, the Government said.
Chancellor says people will see 'change' from lockdown
People will “see a difference” when England’s national lockdown ends next week, Rishi Sunak has said, despite an expectation that most of the country will be under Tier 2.
The Chancellor told Sky News: “Whichever tier you’re in I think people will see a tangible change.
“That said, things are obviously not normal and I can’t pretend that next week things are going to feel like they were before the spring.”
What Tier 3 means
Being placed in Tier 3 would mean that North East pubs, bars, and restaurants would have to stay closed – other than for takeaway.
Residents would also still be banned from attending large sporting events or live performances, while those in lower tier will be allowed back in at a heavily reduced capacity.
However, non-essential shops will reopen regardless and groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up in outdoor public spaces.
Northumberland to be brought in with rest of region
County council leader Glen Sanderson has previously argued for Northumberland to be considered a “special case” and not forced into harsher measures alongside the rest of the region.
But he now says that the Government has made clear that will not happen and locals would “have to respect that”.
Coun Sanderson said: “I want to thank everyone in our county for their sterling efforts over the past few weeks which has led to a sharp drop in cases over the last 10 days.
“We know that lockdown has been tough on all of us, on our families and on our businesses, but by working through this together we are starting to see results.
"However, it's not just about falling cases, it's more complex than that and we have to look at the rates in all age groups, particularly older people who are more vulnerable to the virus; and we have to take into consideration the pressure on our local hospitals and NHS services.
"We know people also travel between areas for both work and leisure - not just different parts of the county, but different parts of the region.
"Ultimately, like the rest of the country, we wait to see what Tier we will be placed in but the Government has made it clear it will cluster councils together in the same Tier and we have to respect that.
"Whatever Tier we do find ourselves in, we will continue to do all we can to support our NHS partners, businesses and our residents."
Most of England expected to be in Tier 2
On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, while London mayor Sadiq Khan said he expected the capital to go in Tier 2 along with the majority of the country and escape Tier 3.
Liverpool is also reportedly set to move down from Tier 3 after a vast reduction of positive cases, possibly in part caused by the mass testing trial in the region.
But Greater Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham said it was "more likely than not" that his region would return to Tier 3.
How will the tier decision be made?
The are five factors taken into consideration.
These include case detection rates in all age groups, case detection rates in the over 60s and the rate at which cases are rising or falling.
The two other measures are the positivity rate – the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken – and pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.
But Downing Street has declined to give any further details on the indicators, nor any estimate of the thresholds.
Health Secretary to announce tiers for England
The Health Secretary is to set out which tier each local authority in England will fall under after the end of the national lockdown.
Matt Hancock will make the announcement in Parliament today after the Government set out its Covid-19 “winter plan” earlier this week.
Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.