Millions of people living in the North of England were given a lockdown bombshell as new restrictions were suddenly put in place with less than four hours’ notice.
Shortly after 9pm on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that from midnight, people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and parts of Yorkshire were no longer allowed to meet indoors.
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 said.
They 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.
Households may go to hospitality, for instance bars and pubs, but new guidance will make clear that two households should not go to hospitality together.
Meanwhile local leaders and government have today agreed a number of changes to local restrictions in other areas.
Below are the areas affected by the new restriction…
The rules apply to the whole of Greater Manchester after a number of hotspots were identified.
Oldham, Trafford and Manchester were all in the 10 places with the highest Covid-19 infection rates.
Figures released yesterday showed Oldham had overtaken Leicester, with 54.3 cases per 100,000 of the population.
It was followed by Trafford, with 36.8 and Manchester with 22.1.
Parts of East Lancashire
It is no secret that Blackburn with Darwen has been cause for concern for some time, with the highest infection rate in England.
Yesterday it had 85.9 cases per 100,000 of the population, and the council had issued fresh guidelines, including a limit on the number of visitors allowed into homes.
The new measures go further, however, banning members of two households meeting indoors.
Other affected areas are Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale.
Parts of West Yorkshire
Three West Yorkshire towns and cities feature in the 10 worst affected places in England – Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Public Health England yesterday said there were 45.1 cases per 100,000 in the population in Bradford, making it the fourth worst affected area.
It was followed by Calderdale in eighth place and Kirklees in tenth.
They had rates of 28.6 and 19.8 per 100,000 respectively.
What is happening in Leicester?
While social gathering restrictions remain in place in Leicester City, the area will benefit from the lifting of restrictions that took place on 4 July in England, and 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 City can get back to business 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.
Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, tweeted: “Just been on call with Minister about LeicesterLockdown.
“The great news is our pubs, cafes, bars & restaurants can re-open and people can go on holiday with their own household.
“But leisure centres, gyms & pools still closed, and no meeting up with other households indoors.”
Ms Kendall called the Government’s handling of the local lockdown “utterly shambolic”.
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.”
Affected local areas
- Greater Manchester:
- City of Manchester
- Blackburn with Darwen
- West Yorkshire: