What do the new lockdown restrictions mean for millions in northern England?

As coronavirus cases surge across parts of northern England, the Government has tightened regional lockdown measures, affecting an estimated 4.5 million people.

At around 9.15pm last night Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced people from separate households in a number of regions including Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire would no longer be able to meet indoors as of today.

This new rule also applies to Leicester, although pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, museums and cinemas in the East Midlands city are set to re-open on Monday while religious ceremonies will be allowed to take place.

Announcing the tightening of lockdown measures, the Department of Health said ‘some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable’. But most people in affected areas will not be able to meet people with whom they don’t live inside a private home or garden.

Single person households who have formed support bubbles with another home will still be able to meet inside and in gardens provided safe social distancing is maintained.

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In affected parts of the North West, you should not socialise with anyone you do not live with in indoor public venues, including pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues which are allowed to operate.

Affected local areas

  • Greater Manchester:
    – City of Manchester
    – Trafford
    – Stockport
    – Oldham
    – Bury
    – Wigan
    – Bolton
    – Tameside
    – Rochdale
    – Salford
  • Lancashire:
    – Blackburn with Darwen
    – Burnley
    – Hyndburn
    – Pendle
    – Rossendale
  • West Yorkshire:
    – Bradford
    – Calderdale
    – Kirklees
  • Leicester

Again there is an exemption for people who have formed a social bubble. The Department of Health adds: ‘If you run such a business, you should take steps to ensure people do not interact with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance.’

The police will be able to take action against rule breakers including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices. These will start at £100 and will be halved to £50 if paid in the first 14 days. Penalties will double for subsequent offences.

Places of worship will remain open, but Covid-19 secure guidance still applies, meaning people should still maintain a safe distance. In Blackburn and Darwen and Bradford, indoor sports facilities including gyms, fitness studios and swimming pools must remain closed by law.

Explaining how the new restrictions will affect people, the Health Secretary said two households will still be able to meet ‘at a social distance in a public place outdoors’ such as a park where there is plenty of space.

But meeting another household in pub gardens or outdoor restaurant space is not allowed in the newly restricted parts of the North West.

When asked about the prospect of crowds gathering too closely on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year, Hancock told the BBC: ‘It’s so important that people follow social distancing rules. My message is people need to keep doing that.

‘We’ve shown we’re prepared to take action if that’s necessary. Having just announced this action last night I don’t this morning want to talk about what more we might do, but we have shown we’re prepared to take action.’

As the rate of infection rises in many parts of the north, Hancock blamed people flouting social distancing rules when meeting friends and families at their homes.

He said the Government will be prepared to take action across other parts of England if necessary.

However the Department of Health said Luton’s restrictions are set to be lifted from tomorrow after making ‘significant progress in controlling the virus’. The borough of Oadby and Wigston just outside Leicester has also been taken off the city’s local lockdown.

As coronavirus infections fell in several parts of the country, a number of businesses were given the green-light to reopen on July 4, on what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

At the time this did not apply to Leicester, which was the first UK city to be put on regional lockdown. The Government was moving towards a strategy of gradually lifting restrictions across most of the country while reserving the right to reimpose curbs in certain hotspots to contain local outbreaks.

If you live in an area that is not under lockdown, you can continue to meet anywhere outdoors in a group of up to six people from different households. Single adult households can still form exclusive ‘support bubbles’ with one other home.

You can still meet in a group of two households anywhere, indoors or outdoors, at any time, and can stay overnight. But visitors should still maintain a safe social distance when in someone’s home.

People in bubbles can still have close contact as they count as the same household.

Current nationwide guidance says people should not attend celebrations or parties where it would be difficult to maintain a safe social distance.

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