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Bolton is one of many areas across the UK being watched closely by the Government due to rising coronavirus cases. The Government’s watchlist is published each week, with seven-day infection rates examined to identify potential spikes.
Speaking today in the House of Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed Bolton would be facing a raft of new restrictions.
Bolton Council had already said on Saturday it was introducing tougher measures “with immediate effect”.
The council said the new restrictions were to prevent a local lockdown, following recent data showing the town’s infection rate had increased to 99 cases per 100,000 people per week – the highest in England.
This has now risen to 120 cases per 100,000 of population.
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Speaking to MPs in the Commons today, Mr Hancock announced strict measures for Bolton, due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.
Mr Hancock told the Commons: “And unfortunately after improving for several weeks, we’ve seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.
“Bolton is up to 120 cases per 100,000 of population, the highest case rate in the country and I’m publishing the data behind the decisions that we’ve taken.
“I must therefore tell that House that, working with the local council, we’re taking further local action.
“The rise in cases in Bolton is partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s, we know this from contact tracing.
“And through our contacting tracing system we’ve identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly.
“We’re therefore taking the following action in Bolton starting immediately.
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“We will restrict all hospitality to takeaways-only and we’ll introduce a late-night restriction of operating hours which will mean all venues will be required to close from 10pm to 5am.
“We’ll introduce urgently further measures that put the current guidance that people cannot socialise outside their household into law.”
The local authority has said those aged between 18 and 49 account for more than 90 percent of the cases.
Mr Hancock also said visitor restrictions will be put in place in care homes in Bolton.
He told MPs: “We’re also putting in place extra measures including visitor restrictions to restrict the spread of virus into care homes and hospitals in Bolton and I want to thank the leadership of Bolton Council who are doing an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances.”
Mr Hancock added: “And I want to say this to everybody directly living in Bolton – I know how anxious this can be, and I know the impact that these measures will have.
“We’re asking you to take a step back at a time when we all just want to get on with our lives and what we love and back to normal. But we need to take this crucial step to keep the virus at bay.
“Because as we’ve seen elsewhere, if we act early and control the virus then we can save lives.”
The Health Secretary continued: “Now I know social distancing can be hard, and how it can be extra-tough for students who will be starting university – but please, stick with it and play your part in getting this virus under control.”
Local lockdowns are also in place in Blackburn, Oldham and Pendle, Leicester City, Parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, Preston, and West Yorkshire, Western Scotland and Caerphilly, Wales.
Across the UK, coronavirus cases have seen a sharp increase in recent days, with Monday’s figure of 2,948 cases the highest number since May 22.
A senior official at NHS Test and Trace has issued an apology to people unable to get a Covid-19 test as officials consider new lockdown restrictions to curb the current spike in cases.
Director of testing Sarah-Jane Marsh said there is capacity at testing sites but laboratories processing the tests are at a “critical pinch-point”.
Ms Marsh added the system is doing “all it can to expand quickly”.
There have been reports of people being told there are no appointments available at test centres in England and that there are no home tests kits available to send out.
Some seeking tests have been asked to go more than 400 miles out of their way to get to a test centre while being cautioned not to use public transport.
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