Large swathes of northern England are set to be hit with tightened lockdown rules after a steep rise in coronavirus cases.
Towns and cities in the North East are expected to fall under a 10pm curfew for all pubs, bars and restaurants – a measure already in force for takeaways in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
The latest curbs, to be announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday, come as millions of people in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire continue to live under local lockdown rules imposed in July.
So, here’s what you need to know about what the restrictions are for your area.
What is the North East lockdown?
The Government is yet to officially announce the new local lockdown rules in North East England, but Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said “additional, temporary” measures are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.
As well as the curfew, other curbs set to be rolled out include people being told not to go on holiday with different households and spectators being advised not to attend sporting venues, according to reports.
The new rules could also include a fresh ban on care home visitors and people being told to avoid non-essential journeys on public transport, stay away from peak hours and to avoid car-shares.
The restrictions will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland – which have all seen rises in cases, according to the latest weekly rates.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said a “full briefing” will be given on Thursday ahead of the measures coming into place at midnight.
Which other areas of northern England are in lockdown?
Millions of people across northern England remain in local lockdown. These are:
- In parts of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Lancashire people cannot meet anyone outside their own household or support bubble in an indoor venue, and care home visits are heavily curtailed
- But from 2 September some parts of these regions had the rules lifted, including Stockport, Wigan, Burnley and some wards of Bradford and Kirklees.
People in Oldham, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle should not meet anyone from outside their household outdoors. Bars, restaurants and cafes should only allow reservations in advance, not walk-ins
In Bolton, there are visitor limits on care homes, while hospitality venues will only be able to serve takeaways and must close between 10pm and 5am. Households must not mix indoors or outdoors, and casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas and conference halls are not allowed to open.
Announcing most of the existing northern England measures on July 31, the health secretary said it was due to “households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules” and the new rules were being put in place in order to “keep the country safe”.
“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe,” Mr Hancock added.
How high are the coronavirus cases?
The latest Public Health England rolling seven-day average of Covid-19 cases show surges across northern England.
While not yet under local lockdown, Leeds and Liverpool have been added to the Government’s watchlist for rises in infections, while North Yorkshire has declared a “major incident” due to spikes in Harrogate, Selby, Craven and Scarborough.
Two of the areas with the steepest rises in their seven-day cases per 100,000 people are Salford (up from 75.3 to 89.6, with 232 new cases) and Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 51.2 to 64.1, with 194 new cases).
Of the top ten local authorities for cases per 100,000 people, nine are in northern England:
1. Bolton 204.1 (587), 152.0 (437)
2. Oadby and Wigston 136.8 (78), 52.6 (30)
3. Hyndburn 132.0 (107), 64.2 (52)
4. Preston 125.8 (180), 75.5 (108)
5. Burnley 124.8 (111), 70.9 (63)
6. Blackburn with Darwen 120.2 (180), 73.5 (110)
7. Oldham 114.7 (272), 66.6 (158)
8. Liverpool 106.4 (530), 56.8 (283)
9. Tameside 105.1 (238), 75.1 (170)
10. Warrington 104.8 (220), 57.6 (121)
How will the restrictions be enforced?
The Government said it will sign new regulations to make the changes “legally enforceable” and will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions.
Some exemptions will be put in place, including for people deemed to be vulnerable.
What has the reaction to the North East lockdown been?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Sun: “The only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now.”
He said on Sunday the Government was doing “everything in our power” to avoid another nationwide lockdown, which he said would be “completely wrong” and “disastrous” for the economy.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told ITV’s Peston programme on Wednesday: “The number of cases has been rising rapidly in many parts of the country, but in particular in the North East, and so a decision has been made to impose further restrictions there.
“And a full announcement will be made tomorrow and so people living in that part of the country should watch out for that. And the measures will come into play at midnight on Thursday evening.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes has said new coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in the North East as a “preventative” measure.
“I think we should all be deeply concerned about the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases we have seen over the last week in the North East,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“And not just the rapid rise in numbers, but also the fact that the average age of people being infected is going up as well.
“Last week 60% of the people that were being tested were between the ages of 18 and 30. That is now starting to reach into older age groups as well.
“We know that when it starts to affect older people that’s when you start to get the hospitalisations and sadly also the mortality too.
“That’s why we are acting now as a preventative measure to try to put off any further spread of the virus and ensure that we don’t end up here in the North East in a more restrictive lockdown instead.”