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Covid-19: Household mixing ban for Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool

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image copyrightReuters/Phil Noble
image captionThe areas join other regions where people are told not to mix in homes and gardens

Coronavirus restrictions are to be tightened again in Stockport and Wigan and introduced in Blackpool for the first time amid rising cases.

People will be banned from mixing with other households in their homes or private gardens from midnight.

Wigan's weekly infection rate rose to 107 cases per 100,000 on 20 Sep. Stockport had 71 cases per 100,000 in the same week and Blackpool had 70.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the measures would be kept under review.

Similar rules are already in place across Greater Manchester and the rest of Lancashire.

Bolton has tighter restrictions, including bars and pubs being takeaway only.

Mr Hancock said it would be "difficult news" for people but the government did not take these decisions lightly.

Blackpool had been excluded from a Lancashire-wide ban on households mixing introduced, along with parts of West Yorkshire and the Midlands, last week.

Blackpool Council's director of public health, Dr Arif Rajpura, said there had since been a "significant rise" and figures showed "a lot of our transmission has been in households" so it was "appropriate" to impose a restriction on household mixing.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy tweeted: "I know how hard it is but to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed please follow the guidance."

image copyrightGMCA
image captionGreater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said there was a steady rise of cases across the region

Rules were eased in Wigan on 26 August, just a month after Greater Manchester-wide restrictions came into force, as the council said residents had "done their bit" to reduce cases.

Stockport had its restrictions lifted the following week.

The new measures are in addition to national restrictions, including the rule of 6 and a curfew for bars and restaurants of 22:00.

Conservative MP for Hazel Grove William Wragg said he had argued that national measures should have been allowed to "bed in first" and he hoped this would be "reviewed frequently" and lifted as soon as possible.

What are the new rules?

Mr Hancock said he was imposing restrictions on inter-household mixing in Stockport, Wigan, Blackpool and also Leeds.

People living in these areas will:

  • Not be allowed to gather in a private dwelling or garden with any other household
  • Not be allowed to visit people in private dwellings or gardens in other areas

Support bubbles will not be affected by the new rules and friends and family can still provide informal childcare for children under 14.

There are also exemptions for work purposes or to provide care to a vulnerable person.

image copyrightMartin Rickett/PA Wire
image captionOther areas like Oldham have been under restrictions since August

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham earlier said figures were "creeping up" across Greater Manchester but it was "happening steadily".

Eight out of 10 boroughs have more than 100 cases per 100,000 and Bolton has more than 200, he said.

Mr Burnham said it was "difficult to argue against measures which seek to try and bring those numbers under control but there is a limit to what any restrictions like this could achieve".

"Fixing NHS Test and Trace seems to be better than piling more restrictions on," he said.

Neil Jack, chief executive of Blackpool Council, said the health of the town's residents was of "paramount importance".

He said there was "no evidence" of any direct links between increased infection rates and tourism, but he would continue to put a high focus on ensuring visitors and tourism businesses "do the right thing".

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