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Covid: 'Massive disappointment' over Lancashire tier 3 move

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionLancashire has agreed to move into tier three - the top level of England Covid restrictions

Business owners in Lancashire have been left "massively disappointed" after the county moved into the top tier of coronavirus measures.

It is the second area to enter the tier three - "very high" alert level.

It will mean the closure of businesses including soft play, bookmakers and casinos and pubs and bars, unless they serve substantial meals.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an "unrelenting rise in cases" in Lancashire meant "we must act now".

Antony Anderson, who runs The Sir Tom Finney pub and No. 16 On The Hill in Penwortham, Preston, said "every single time a new restriction comes in, it just makes it more and more difficult".

"It's basically suffocating us. It's going to be impossible to trade if we go into tier three."

No. 16 On The Hill will have to close under the Covid-19 rules.

While The Sir Tom Finney pub could remain open as it serves food, Mr Anderson said it would be affected by the new measures which prohibit drink-only customers.

image copyrightAntony Anderson
image captionAntony Anderson (left) pictured with his family at No.16 On The Hill

The owner of a party and play centre in Nelson, which opened 14 years ago, said she was "massively disappointed" by the decision to close soft play areas.

"It feels like we are being singled out and treated differently," said Nicola Nuttall, from Giddy Kippers.

"Why is it safe to go to a gym or trampoline park but not a soft play centre?"

The business only reopened three weeks ago following the lockdown in March.

"We were given a 24-page document of things we have to comply with," said Ms Nuttall.

The company has "jumped over every hurdle that been put in front of us" and it now feels like the industry is being "sacrificed again", she said.

"I am massively disappointed that [local leaders] didn't stick to their guns in the way Andy Burnham has done," Ms Nuttall added.

Analysis - Daniel Wainwright, BBC England Data Unit

Parts of Lancashire continue to be among the worst affected for new cases of coronavirus, while the county's hospitals are also among the highest for new Covid-19 admissions.

In Burnley, there were 517 new confirmed cases in the week to 12 October, up from 398 the week before.

West Lancashire, Pendle and Blackburn with Darwen were also in the 10 areas of England with the highest rates of new cases per 100,000 population.

Weekly data on hospital admissions shows 105 patients at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals admitted or diagnosed with Covid-19 in the week to 11 October.

The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS trusts each recorded 57 patients in the same week.

The hospital trust with the highest number of new admissions was Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, which had 255.

Another 125 were recorded at University Hospitals Birmingham, which is England's biggest hospital trust, while 110 were admitted or diagnosed at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

The managing director of Dave Pluck bookmakers was forced to close his premises in Merseyside on Wednesday, meaning the latest announcement for Lancashire is a double blow for the company.

"We need the financial help that we feel all businesses should receive in these circumstances," Nick Thompson said.

"I have seen no evidence as to why betting shops, which have been open since mid-June, are now being closed when other retailers can trade."

He added: "The government needs to stop this now. A circuit-break is needed and financial support for everyone needs to be supplied.

"Staff can't be left going home at night not knowing if they are working the next day. "

image copyrightNick Thompson
image captionNick Thompson has vowed his company "will be back"

The landlady of The Steamer pub in Fleetwood said she was expecting the announcement but "it's not good news at all".

"We are doing everything we can to keep people safe," said Sheree Mead.

"Yes - we are a restaurant but will people come out? Are they too afraid to come out because of the spread [of coronavirus]?"

She added that "we really have to save our pubs" adding: "Hopefully we will come through it."

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