MILLIONS of Brits across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were last night banned from meeting indoors as ministers scrambled to stop Covid-19 “bubbling up”.
The orders came as England was hit with 846 new positive cases – the highest number in 32 days – adding to fears the country is facing a second wave of the virus.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was introducing the clampdown for 4.5million people with a “heavy heart” but was chilled by soaring infection rates in Northern England.
And he said the spread in nine areas – including the cities of Manchester and Bradford – was “largely due to households meeting and not abiding by social distancing rules”.
So from midnight members of different households are now outlawed from meeting in private gardens or indoors, including homes, pubs and restaurants.
It comes as:
The affected areas include all of the 2.8million residents of Greater Manchester, as well as the Lancashire towns of Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.
And in West Yorkshire, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees were also hit.
Leicester was also included in the households ban, but pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will reopen on Monday.
However, leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed.
Mr Hancock insisted he was “determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe”.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said there had been a “marked change” across his boroughs in recent days.
He added: “We have gone from a falling rate of cases last week to a rising rate in nine out of ten, affecting communities across a much wider geography.”
‘WE CAN’T BE SELFISH’
He added: “The more we stick to the new rules, the quicker they will be removed.
“We can’t be selfish.”
The new restrictions were announced on the first day of Eid, with later clarification that celebrations can take place at places of worship as long as social distancing is observed, but not in private homes.
The hotspots were slapped with the special measure as part of the Government’s strategy to use rolling localised lockdowns to try avoid a wider national second lockdown.
As of now pubs and shops in the affected area remain open and people from the same household can visit together.
But ministers did not rule out going further if this attempt to control the virus did not work.
Defending the move, Mr Hancock insisted he was “determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe”,
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We have gone from a falling rate of cases in nearly all of our boroughs last week to a rising rate in nine out of 10 affecting communities across a much wider geography.
“In Rochdale, the one borough where cases have fallen, they are still too high.
“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.”
The shock announcement came after Boris Johnson warned between ten and 30 places in Britain are seeing Covid-19 cases “bubbling up”.
Speaking in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, the PM said yesterday: “There are between ten and 30 places where you are seeing it bubbling up a little bit.”
What can residents banned from socialising indoors do?
- You can go to the pub or a restaurant, but only with your household/bubble
- You can only be with members of your household or bubble in your home or garden
- You can celebrate Eid and go to a place of worship but only if you follow social distancing – celebrations with members outside your household cannot take place in your home or garden
- You can go on holiday but only with members of your household or bubble
LANCASHIRE HOTSPOT LOCKDOWN RULES
WHO CAN I MEET?
You can still see members of your household indoors, but not meet up with others inside your home or someone else’s home — nor inside bars, shops or restaurants.
Meeting up with someone from a different household is still allowed outside, such as in parks.
WHY THE NORTH?
Infection rates in the area are rising more quickly than in other parts of the country. Ministers claim social distancing measures have been ignored.
HOW WILL IT BE ENFORCED?
Police say they are using “The Four Es” — Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce. People will get a warning first if they are found to be ignoring the new lockdown rules.
That move can be followed by orders to disperse, and people can be slapped with a fine if they ignore these.
HOW LONG IT WILL IT LAST?
Experts will review the measures each week until they decide that infection rates in the area have sufficiently declined.
Mr Johnson continued: “I think the country as a whole understands that the best way to deal with this is if we have tough local lockdowns to get it under control in those towns.”
And the shocking data that spooked ministers today showed Blackburn hit by 85.3 cases per 100,000, Leicester with 57.7, Oldham with 53.1, Bradford 44.9, Trafford 39.9, Rochdale 30.9.
The national average is currently 7.2, according to NHS Digital.
Meanwhile, campsites, caravan parks and holiday homes in Devon and Cornwall are full to bursting as up to 14 million opt for a last-minute Covid-19 staycation.
Leicester MP Liz Kendall called the Government’s handling of the local lockdown “utterly shambolic”.
She tweeted: “This has been an unbelievably difficult period for our city but peoples hard work & sacrifices have paid off.
“However, the Govt’s handling of this lockdown has been totally shambolic and lessons must be learnt for the future to prevent others going through the same.”
Blackburn with Darwen, Leicester, Oldham, Bradford and Trafford are the places with the highest rates of the virus per 100,000 people.
It comes as new figures released show England had the highest number of excess deaths in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.
By the week ending May 29, England had a relative cumulative age-standardised mortality rate of 7.55% – meaning it was 7.55% higher than the average mortality rate between 2015 and 2019.
Although Spain had the biggest spike in excess mortality – deaths from all causes, not just coronavirus, above the five year average – England has had the longest continuous period with more deaths than usual.
How many people are affected?
- Greater Manchester – 2,835,686
- Blackburn – 149,696
- Burnley – 88,920
- Hyndburn – 81,043
- Pendle – 92,112
- Rossendelle – 71,482
- Bradford – 593,776
- Calderdale – 211,455
- Kirklees – 439,787
- Total affected – 4,509,957
- Leicester – 354,224
INFECTED Brits must now selfisolate for ten days — three more than at present — to try to prevent a second Covid-19 wave.
It comes as government scientists say there is a “low but tangible possibility” sufferers are infectious for seven to nine days.
Officials expect only a relatively small number to be affected.
The clampdown follows a continued spike in cases in parts of Europe. There are about 700 confirmed cases a day in the UK.
Medical scientist Peter Openshaw, of Imperial College London, said: “Keeping the infection rate low is now a top priority.”
The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll rose by 38 to 45,999 yesterday.
And worrying data shows the number of new Covid-19 infections has risen by more than a third in just two days.
In total, 846 people tested positive in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday.
It means 737 Britons are being diagnosed with the disease every 24 hours, on average — the highest level since July 3, when the average stood at 749.
Meanwhile, Mr Hancock has denied the Government is pushing “hysteria” and insisted a second wave of coronavirus is rolling across Europe.
The under-fire Health Secretary yesterday morning expressed concerns over the number of cases in not just Europe but across the globe.
He was quickly blasted for scaremongering, with senior MPs accusing him of acting like the “Grim Reaper”.
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They urged him to to use a “stiletto not a sledgehammer” to tackle fresh Covid outbreaks.
Appearing on Sky News, Mr Hancock vowed to do whatever it takes to stop the virus peaking again in Britain.
He said: “I am worried about a second wave.
“You can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe.”