A full local lockdown will not be imposed on Oldham, its council leader has confirmed.
In recent days, there had been fears Oldham would be made to go into lockdown because of its COVID-19 infection rate. Council leader Sean Fielding had warned this would be “catastrophic” for the borough’s economy.
In the seven days up to Monday, Oldham had the highest new infection rate – 78.9 per 100,000 people – in England.
However, Cllr Fielding said on Friday that the town hall has agreed a deal with Downing Street that avoids the closure of businesses, but sees some additional restrictions introduced.
***BREAKING***— Sean Fielding (@cllrsfielding) August 21, 2020
We have reached agreement with the Government that Oldham will not go in to full local economic lockdown. Some additional restrictions will be introduced, however. More to follow... pic.twitter.com/AUO3PeHOCI
It means “social mixing” between households in any setting – whether in parks or pub beer gardens – is to be banned in the borough.
He added public transport will be limited to “essential use only”.
Meanwhile, the number of people who can attend funerals and weddings in the borough will be reduced, though Cllr Fielding did not give exact numbers.
Of the measures, he said: “I know these restrictions are difficult, I know this is a difficult time. But we need to work together and pull together now more than ever to bring down our coronavirus cases, and avoid any future threat of local lockdown or further national lockdown.”
Cllr Fielding had previously argued it was “household transmission” driving infections in Oldham, as opposed to businesses.
Furthermore, Oldham’s latest infection rate – 78.9 per 100,000 in the seven days up to Monday – was actually well down from 111.8 per 100,000 the week before.
Meanwhile, similar measures to Oldham have been imposed on Blackburn and parts of Pendle.
It means people will be told not to socialise with anyone from outside their household from midnight on Saturday. Public transport will also be restricted.
However, measures will be relaxed in Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen, the Department of Health said.
These areas had been placed under general restrictions since 31 July as part of blanket rules covering Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
While businesses remained open, the restrictions prohibited people from meeting at a friend or family member’s home – even if it was in a garden, where the chances of the virus spreading are slim.
Meanwhile, the government said it is monitoring Birmingham and Northampton following recent spikes in cases.