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Covid: New measures imposed on North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe tightened restrictions were imposed at midnight

Stricter measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 have come into force in Lancashire, Merseyside, parts of the Midlands and West Yorkshire.

The new rules were announced on Friday amid a rise in cases.

The localised restrictions, which will affect 4.7m people, ban separate households from meeting each other at home or in private gardens.

Pubs and restaurants must also shut early in Merseyside and Lancashire, excluding Blackpool.

New measures for the rest of England will be set out by the prime minister in the House of Commons later on Tuesday and he will address the nation in a live broadcast at 20:00 BST.

From Thursday, all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues will have to close at 22:00 and people in England should work from home "if they can".

What are the new rules?

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe local restrictions were announced on Friday

Residents are not allowed to socialise in their homes or private gardens in:

  • Lancashire (excluding Blackpool)
  • Merseyside, Warrington and Halton
  • Wolverhampton, Oadby and Wigston
  • Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale

Pubs must shut between 22:00 and 05:00 and offer table service only in:

  • Lancashire (excluding Blackpool),
  • Merseyside, Warrington and Halton

Residents are asked only to use public transport for "essential purposes" in:

  • Lancashire (excluding Blackpool)
  • Merseyside, Warrington and Halton

Residents are asked to avoid attending amateur or semi-professional sports events as spectators in:

  • Lancashire (excluding Blackpool)
  • Merseyside, Warrington and Halton

Support bubbles will not be affected by the new rules.

What has the reaction been?

William Lees-Jones, owner of Greater Manchester-based JW Lees brewery which employs more than 1,300 people, said the new measures were "absolutely devastating" and would "inevitably result in redundancies".

"All of our pubs had to be closed for 15 weeks and it was only last week we reopened the last one," he said.

He said it was no coincidence that Whitbread had announced plans to cut 6,000 jobs on the same day of the restrictions coming into effect, and called on the government to help.

Mr Lee-Jones said: "There are three million people who work in the hospitality industry. If you're going to put the restrictions in place - you need to give us more help."

He added: "Pubs are probably the safest place to be in the UK at this moment."

image captionWilliam Lees-Jones said making pubs shut earlier would be "absolutely devastating" for the hospitality industry

Tomas Maunier, co-owner of Fazenda restaurant chain, said it would take a "massive hit" by being forced to close early.

"We are losing a full sitting across the sites - that is a lot of money," he said.

He said firm, which has restaurants in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham, was already struggling with restrictions to ensure social distancing.

"We are taking all the pain. They are cutting opening hours... but we're not paying less rent.

"Closing earlier won't solve the big problem - people not following the guidelines at home."

'Completely redundant'

Hannah Horner, co-owner of The Borough in Lancaster which has 38 staff, said it had been a "very tough" few months and her business had already "changed beyond all recognition".

She said she was unable to open her other pub, The Britannia as it was "too small for social distancing".

The former nurse said she understood the government had to "strike a balance between keeping the economy going and the health of the nation".

But she added: "You do wonder what difference [closing pubs early] is going to make to the bottom line of infections... and whether it will push people to house parties or socialise illegally."

image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe owner of a Liverpool wine bar says it will be a problem persuading people to leave early

Keith Haggis, owner of Keiths Food & Wine Bar in Liverpool, said: "We don't know what's going to happen.

"It is going to be a problem persuading people to leave - we will have to stop serving drinks about 9.30pm.

"The furlough scheme kept us going but we don't have that now and we don't know how long these new restrictions will last."

'Absolute nightmare'

Dave Hughes, managing director of Acorn Brewery which runs a pub in Barnsley that already shuts at 22:00, said the last six months had been an "absolute nightmare".

He said: "The restrictions will be tough. Our industry has been seriously hit through lockdown and for the micro-breweries there's not been much assistance.

"We've had to cut our workforce, the furlough scheme was helpful but we've lost staff through them finding other work and we've had to make a redundancy to try and safeguard the rest of the jobs..

"There will be some pubs that rely on that evening trade who think they can't afford to open and when we start losing them who knows."

Shane Hodgkiss, 64, has been in the pub trade for 20 years.

The landlord of the Hollybush in Lye, Dudley, said: "I cannot afford to employ more people to carry out table service so it will mean me and the wife working all hours again to make it work and you know, we're not too long off retiring so it's going to be hard.

"I'd like to [employ people] but I just cannot afford it. I am going to have to lay a couple of staff anyway."

Further restrictions

Most parts of Greater Manchester - with the exception of Stockport and Wigan - as well as Preston, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle in Lancashire are already subject to stricter restrictions .

Bolton, which has the highest number of cases in the country, also brought in extra measures on 8 September, restricting restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to takeaway only, and requiring all hospitality venues to close at 22:00.

People in Oldham, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle in Lancashire should also not meet anyone from outside their household outdoors.

Last week, the government said these tightened restrictions in parts of Greater Manchester and Lancashire would continue.

Restrictions have also been brought in across large parts of north-east England.

The government introduced the rule of six across England on 14 September.

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