This evening I was briefed on enhanced measures which are being introduced across Greater Manchester from midnight tonight [Thursday 30th July 2020] in a bid to help reduce numbers of covid-19 cases.
I understand that the decision to introduce these measures was approved earlier today in consultation with the Leader of Rochdale Council. As the elected representative for Heywood, Middleton, Castleton, Bamford and Norden I am extremely disappointed that I was not contacted to be included in these discussions.
The new measures instruct that residents are not to meet with people from other households, in their home or garden.
I am extremely relieved that business has been unaffected by the new measures and that shops, bars and restaurants will be able to remain open, observing the covid-safe guidance that owners have work so hard to put in place.
I have already received emails from residents concerned about the new measures who are confused as to why people can meet in pubs and parks but not homes and gardens. For clarity, this is because social distancing cannot be regulated in a home / garden setting, as it can in public spaces. It is also understood that failure to observe social distancing rules has a major influence on the spread of infection.
I understand that tonight’s news will be disappointing, particularly for those people who had family visits, gatherings or other events planned for the coming days and weeks. However, I would urge people in Rochdale Borough and across Greater Manchester to observe the restrictions in the interest of public safety.
Heywood and Middleton constituents can be assured that I am holding emergency meetings with colleagues in neighbouring constituencies to discuss the next steps that we will be taking together. I have also requested an urgent meeting with Matt Hancock to discuss the situation fully.
For the moment the full official guidance is as follows:
NEW RULES ON GATHERINGS IN GREATER MANCHESTER, EAST LANCASHIRE AND WEST YORKSHIRE
Government announces changes to rules on gatherings in private homes or their gardens in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire after increase in COVID-19 cases. Residents are asked to comply with the new rules from midnight tonight. These restrictions will apply in Leicester City, but the city will benefit from lifting of restrictions that took place on 4th July in England, including reopening pubs and restaurants.
Luton will be brought back in line with the rest of the country
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has this evening announced that new rules on social gatherings will be introduced in Northern England to stop the spread of COVID-19. These changes will also apply in Leicester city.
This is in response to an increasing trend in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area, and data from PHE and the JBC which suggests transmission among households is a key infection pathway in the area.
The areas that these changes apply to are:
- The Greater Manchester area
- Blackburn with Darwen
- 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.
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.
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.
Luton will be brought in line with the rest of country after significant progress has been made in controlling the virus.