The Government has announced new restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus across Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
But what restrictions have been imposed, which areas are affected and what will it all mean for people living there?
– What has the Government announced?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday that people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire will be banned from meeting each other indoors from midnight.
– Which areas are affected?
The new restrictions apply to Greater Manchester, including the City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford.
They also apply to Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale in Lancashire, and Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire.
Similar restrictions will also apply to Leicester, which saw the first so-called “local lockdown” imposed on June 29.
– What does this mean for the people living in the affected areas?
Government guidance published on Friday states that it will be against the law for people from different households (so, those who do not live together) to meet in a private home or garden, unless they are part of a support bubble.
– Does this mean two households cannot meet up at all?
The guidance states that up to two households, or six people from any number of households, are allowed to meet outdoors – but not in people’s gardens. It says people should continue to socially distance from anyone they do not live with and avoid physical contact.
On Friday morning Mr Hancock told the BBC that two households can still meet “at a social distance in a public place outdoors” such as a park, where there is lots of space, but meeting another household in pub gardens or outdoor restaurant space is not allowed in the newly restricted area of the North West.
– Can people in the affected areas travel outside the affected areas and vice versa?
Mr Hancock said people can still travel “for work purposes”.
Due to a rise of #COVID19 cases in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, new restrictions on gatherings have been introduced.
Households in these regions MUST NOT:
▶️ Invite others to their homes ▶️ Meet anyone from another household in their home or garden pic.twitter.com/aMw8yjWums
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) July 31, 2020
He said: “Strictly, the law we’re bringing in is that two households cannot meet in the area defined but obviously any two households who are meeting should follow the social distancing guidelines.”
Asked specifically on BBC Breakfast if a household from, for example, Greater Manchester, could go to a household outside one of the affected areas, he said: “Following social distancing rules.”
The guidance says it will be illegal for people from outside the “lockdown area” to visit those inside the affected areas at their home.
The guidance also states that people can travel into and outside the lockdown areas for weddings and that, while people from outside the affected areas can attend, they should not go into a private home or garden.
People can travel inside and outside the lockdown areas for funerals too, the guidance states.
People in the affected areas are also being advised not to share a vehicle with anyone outside their household.
If they must, they should take precautions including keeping to small groups of people at any one time, opening windows for ventilation, wearing face coverings and travelling side by side or behind other people.
– Have shops, bars, restaurants and other local businesses had to close down?
No, unlike the Leicester lockdown this has not happened. While these places remain open, people are urged only to go with members of their own household and to maintain social distancing from others.
People can still visit lockdown areas for holidays, the Government says, but “must avoid socialising with people indoors when doing so”.
In Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford, indoor gyms, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor sports courts and facilities and indoor swimming pools, including indoor facilities at water parks must remain closed.
– What about if I have been shielding, can I stop on August 1 with the rest of England?
The Government guidance states that shielding continues for people living in Blackburn with Darwen in the North West “and other local affected areas across England”.
But the PA news agency understands that the pausing of shielding advice includes the areas in the North West of England and Yorkshire where new restrictions have been imposed.
The Government will write to clinically vulnerable people living in areas where additional public health measures require them to continue shielding.
– Are care home visits allowed?
People should not visit care homes in the affected areas “other than in exceptional circumstances”, the guidance states.
– What about places of worship?
People can still attend churches, mosques and other places of worship, but have to socially distance from those outside their household and the Government recommends that “if possible prayer/religious services take place outdoors”.
Muslims celebrating Eid in the affected areas are being urged not to host or visit friends and family in each other’s homes or gardens and not to meet friends and family in other venues – including restaurants or cafes.
– Why have the new restrictions been introduced?
In a series of tweets, Mr Hancock said there has been an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.
He said this is due to “households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules” and that the new rules are being put in place in order to “keep the country safe”.
1/4 We're constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we've seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) July 30, 2020
Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast a second wave of coronavirus is “not yet” happening in the UK, adding: “These measures are very much being taken to prevent a second wave – we can see that second wave in Europe.
“We’re absolutely determined to keep people safe.”
– How will the restrictions be enforced?
The Government has said it will pass new laws to enforce the changes, which will mean police can take action against those who break the rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing £100 fines, which could double if further offences are committed.
– How fast is the virus spreading?
According to the most recent figures from Public Health England (PHE) the rate of infection is increasing across 13 of the 19 local authorities in the areas where the new measures are being imposed.
In Blackburn with Darwen, the rate has risen from 83.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 20 to 89.3 in the seven days to July 27. A total of 133 new cases have been recorded.
Leicester has the second highest seven-day rate despite it falling from 67.8 per 100,000 people to 60.2 over the same period, with 214 new cases.
Over the same period the rate has also increased in Manchester, Burnley, Pendle, Bradford, Calderdale, Oldham, Bury, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan, but fell in Hyndburn, Rossendale, Kirklees, Bolton and Rochdale.
Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn and Pendle have been on a PHE watchlist as an “area of concern” after elevated rates of infection.
– What is happening in Leicester?
The DHSC said that, from Monday, restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers in Leicester can open again in line with the easing of restrictions across the rest of the country on July 4.
Leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed but cinemas and museums will open and religious ceremonies will be able to take place, it added.
The department said that all local restrictions currently in place in the neighbouring borough of Oadby and Wigston will end.
But Mr Hancock said that the restrictions on social gatherings imposed on Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire will also apply to the city of Leicester.