United Kingdom

What tier am I in? Post-lockdown checker for England crashes moments after going live

The Government has been roundly ridiculed for being forced to scrap its tier postcode checker tool which crashed just minutes after going live. 

Those inputting their address on the website this morning were told: 'Sorry, we're experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again in a few moments.'

Others were given a different message saying: 'We're experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later. You can find coronavirus information on Gov.UK.' 

The checker went live on the website shortly after 11am, around half an hour before Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the details in the House of Commons.

It has now been replaced with a straightforward list of each region in England and what alert level it will be placed in when the national lockdown ends on December 2. 

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael told MailOnline: 'They may now have to wait for Jacob Rees Mogg and his quill pen to write a copperplate bulletin to be attached to the gates of Downing Street.' 

Jake Madders, director of Hyve Managed Hosting, which specialises in hosting websites, added: 'It seems to me that they didn't load test it and just stuck it live. You have to load test something like that and simulate traffic in advance.'

He added: 'It's madness. Who are their suppliers? We could do it for them if they wanted.'

This is the landing page for when you try to check the coronavirus tier in your area of England

Two different error messages have appeared for users this morning, with both pictured above

Mr Madders explained that a spike in traffic trying to access a colossal amount of raw information would weigh on the website's infrastructure.

He said: 'There's 1.7million postcodes in the UK. That means there's at least 1.7 data points on that search tool, so it's a big table with lots of records. 

Mr Carmichael added: 'In 2020 you wouldn't think that creating a postcard checker would be beyond the abilities of government. Even the BBC manage to do it so it can't be that difficult.

'Everything this government touches turns to dust. Boris Johnson has the Midas touch in reverse.

'In the meantime people across the country have questions that they need answered and they look to the government for answers.'   

A Government spokesperson said: 'There has been a technical issue and officials are working to fix this as soon as possible.'

Britons were left frustrated by the issue, posting a series of memes - with one saying: 'Can't catch Covid if you're at home constantly refreshing a postcode checker.' 

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth made fun of Mr Hancock for the website crashing when he responded to his statement in the Commons this morning.

Mr Ashworth told the House: 'Can I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement, and I suppose we should all thank him for advance sight of the website, but sadly it crashed before we could check what tiers we were in.'

Each area of England will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends next Wednesday, but the system has been toughened from the previous regime.

This means more authorities will move into the higher tiers, with the details revealed after the Government set out its Covid-19 'winter plan' earlier this week.

Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas. The first review will take place by December 16.

Writing about the postcode checker crashing, Paul Brand tweeted: 'Government website is definitely having a mare. Did they not expect quite a few people to search for their local restrictions, given that's what the page is designed to do?'

James Mitchinson added: 'Can someone switch it off and back on again, please?' 

And Geri Scott said: 'Government's postcode tier finder seems to have already crashed, so that's a good start.' 

England learned its lockdown fate today as the tier areas face from next Wednesday were revealed - with most facing the higher levels.

A detailed breakdown of the new system was published after days of wrangling, with Tories up in arms at the prospect of 'lockdown by another name'.

Millions of people face a ban on households mixing indoors, and in a swathe of pubs will be only be able to provide takeaway service or must close altogether.

Once working, the postcode checker showed London and Liverpool had avoided tier three after a fall in infections, as well as lower hospital admission rates.

They will instead be subject to tier two restrictions, which shut pubs unless they serve meals and order people not to meet other households indoors.

But Greater Manchester, where Mayor Andy Burnham fought a bitter battle with the Government against going into tough restrictions, will remain in tier three.

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