Separate households will be banned from meeting indoors from midnight tonight in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire after a rise in coronavirus cases.
The news comes after the UK saw its highest daily total of COVID-19 cases for more than a month and Boris Johnson warned the virus is “bubbling up” in up to 30 areas across the UK.
The order covers:
- All of Greater Manchester
- East Lancashire: Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen
- West Yorkshire: Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees
- The City of Leicester, which saw the UK’s first local lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules” was a reason for the decision, which had been taken in order to “keep the country safe”.
He said: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.”
Mr Hancock added: “We’re constantly vigilant and we’ve been looking at the data, and unfortunately we’ve seen across parts of northern England an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus.
“So, today, I held a meeting of the Government’s Gold Committee and working with local leaders, including, for instance, Andy Burnham the mayor of Greater Manchester, we’ve decided that we need to take action across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
“So, from midnight tonight [Friday] we are banning households meeting up indoors.”
A government source told Sky News: “You shouldn’t be intentionally meeting people from outside your household in an enclosed place – that includes pubs and restaurants and bars.”
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said there had been a “marked change” in the spread of the virus across the area.
“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 ten affecting communities across a much wider geography,” he said.
Mr Burnham said he agreed with the health secretary “that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections”.
He added: “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.
“This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times.”
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