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New regional COVID-19 restrictions for areas in North of England and Leicester

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night announced a raft of new regional COVID-19 restrictions on Twitter. These restrictions will cover Greater Manchester, alongside several other areas in Northern England as well as Leicester. 

This is in response to an increasing trend in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area. The government says that data from Public Health England suggests transmission among households is a key infection pathway in the area.

The areas that these changes apply to are:

  • The Greater Manchester area
  • Pendle
  • Hyndburn
  • Burnley
  • Rossendale
  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Bradford
  • Calderdale
  • Kirklees
  • Leicester City

It means people in these areas will not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens. Some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.

The government will sign new regulations to make these changes legally enforceable.

The regulations will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions and more details on these will be set out when the regulations are published.

Despite a ban on different households mixing, pubs and bars will remain open. New guidance will be that each group in a pub or bar should represent a single household, and that households are not allowed to join the same group in a pub, bar, or restaurant. 

Some restrictions that were put into place in Leicester will be lifted, however social gathering restrictions will remain in place. All local restrictions currently in place in the neighbouring borough of Oadby and Wigston will end.

It means from Monday 3 August restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers in Leicester can open under this new regime but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed. In addition, cinemas and museums will open and religious ceremonies will be able to take place.

And on Saturday 1 August, Luton will be brought in line with the rest of the country after significant progress has been made in controlling the virus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.

We’ve been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee. Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.

The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.

We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of coronavirus across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe.

The restrictions currently in place in Blackburn, announced last Friday, which saw indoor swimming pools, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor gyms and sports facilities remaining closed, will continue.

From Saturday, these leisure facilities will open in Luton, bringing it in line with the rest of the country.

For those preparing to celebrate Eid Al Adha this weekend with friends and family these restrictions will come as a blow but everyone is being urged to follow the new rules and to protect the ones they love from catching coronavirus.

Mosques and other places of worship have reopened for prayer and communal worship, but in a different socially distanced and COVID-19 Secure way. This means that while mosques can remain open, many will not able to welcome as many worshippers as before.

Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: 

"We have always said that we will remain vigilant and be ready to respond quickly should the need arise. In line with that approach, I have agreed with the Health Secretary that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections.

"I ask all Greater Manchester residents - young and old alike - to protect each other by observing these new requirements. They will be reviewed weekly; meaning the more we stick to them, the quicker they will be removed.

"This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times."  

Social distancing guidance remains in place across the country, including mandatory mask wearing and advise to stay two metres apart wherever possible. Anyone with symptoms is advised to isolate immediately for 10 days, and apply for a free test online or through the 119 telephone service. 

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