Danger of ‘unrest’ in Indian variant hotspot if government imposes local lockdown, warns council boss

·2-min read
<p>People queue for vaccines in Bolton</p> (AP)

People queue for vaccines in Bolton

(AP)

Social “unrest” risks erupting in Britain’s Indian variant hotspot if the Government imposes a local lockdown, a town hall chief warned today.

Bolton council leader David Greenhalgh gave the stark prediction as cases of the mutation of concern continued to rise in the town.

Asked whether he had told Health Secretary Matt Hancock that there could be civil unrest if there was a lockdown ordered, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I do think there is a danger of unrest.

“There is a great deal of resentment, Bolton was in my mind and it’s accepted, we were disproportionately affected, really since July last year, and even when our rates were coming down we still remained in lockdown when other areas’ rates were higher than ours.”

He added: “The people of Bolton have a great spirit and they come together when times are difficult.

“But this would be a very, very difficult situation to manage I believe, if we went into a lockdown that we have experience of, personal experience, of a town that did not work.”

He explained further: “We’ve been there before and they don’t work, not in a dense conurbation like Greater Manchester....the spread increases because people travel 50 yards across a county boundary to access hospitality that they can’t in their own area.”

Ministers have not ruled out local lockdowns or delaying the final stage of easing restrictions nationwide on June 21 as they seek to prevent a third coronavirus wave in Britain fuelled by the Indian variant B1.617.2.

The Covid-19 infection seven-day rate in Bolton has soared to 283.1 confirmed new cases per 100,000 people in the week to May 13, up 116.5 per cent compared to the previous week.

Cllr Greenhalgh expects cases to continue rising, with surge testing in place to identify as many as possible, as well as surge vaccination to seek to better protect the community in coming weeks.

“The majority of our cases are in very much our younger age groups, primary school, secondary school and in their 20s,” he said.

“We still have not got an increase in hospitalisation and severe illness which is hugely welcome..those figures still remain low.

“I think the next two weeks we will still see our cases rising.”

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