Chris Whitty suggests Britons will have to sacrifice meeting friends

By John Stevens and Sophie Borland for the Daily Mail and Jack Elsom For Mailonline

Published: 22:13 BST, 31 July 2020 | Updated: 23:37 BST, 31 July 2020

Wedding receptions of more than 30 people will no longer be allowed to take place tomorrow as had been planned. They are delayed until at least August 14

Face masks will be compulsory in most indoor public spaces including places of worship and museums. 

Police will have new powers to enforce social distancing rules including the wearing of face masks. 

Britain was last night braced for new restrictions on meeting friends and family as the price of getting children back to school.

Boris Johnson said he was ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on easing lockdown after infections doubled in a month.

It came hours before a swathe of businesses were due to reopen. At a gloomy Downing Street press conference, chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned the country had ‘probably reached near the limit or the limits’ of what can be done to return to life as normal for now.

He suggested trade-offs would have to be made if schools are to reopen in September, with some restrictions being reimposed. 

Professor Whitty warned: ‘We have probably reached near the limit or the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society. The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong.’ 

Meanwhile the PM admitted there may have to be ‘trade-offs’ so pupils can return to schools, which is ‘a national priority’.

Measures due to be lifted today, including allowing small wedding receptions, reopening bowling alleys and pilots of sports gatherings, are delayed by at least two weeks.

Face coverings will also become mandatory in more places in England including museums, galleries and places of worship from next Saturday – and there will be tougher policing of the wearing of them.

It comes as figures yesterday showed there are now 4,900 new infections a day, up from around 3,000 a day a fortnight ago and 2,000 a day at the end of June.

After receiving the grim data on infection levels late on Wednesday, Mr Johnson is understood to have called a meeting of his closest aides on Thursday morning to work out a new battle plan.

Ministers, including Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove, as well as Professor Whitty, finalised the proposals later that evening. 

The ‘Northern lockdown’ ban on people in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire meeting other households indoors or in gardens was announced immediately, with the other measures confirmed yesterday.

Mr Johnson warned the restrictions in areas of the North West could become nationwide if infections keep rising. He said: ‘Unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further.’ 

He added that the police will be asked to play a greater role including getting more bobbies on the beat to check face masks are being worn.

The doom-laden press conference came two weeks after Mr Johnson said he hoped all restrictions could be lifted by Christmas. In stark contrast, he yesterday said ‘we cannot be complacent’.

He told the briefing: ‘As we see these rises [in infection rates] around the world, we can’t fool ourselves we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.

‘We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard. Our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control’. 

But he insisted summer was not cancelled and encouraged the public ‘still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK’ – saying he hopes to take his own mini-break at home. 

He insisted plans for more staff to go back to offices should stay and said shielding advice will still be paused yesterday as planned.

Boris Johnson yesterday announced he is ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on the easing of lockdown after an increase in coronavirus cases

A Tory MP was accused of racism yesterday after claiming the ‘vast majority’ breaking lockdown restrictions were from black and minority ethnic communities.

Craig Whittaker, who represents Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, said there were ‘sections of our community that are just not taking the pandemic seriously’.

He made the comments during an interview with LBC Radio after local lockdown measures were imposed on large parts of the North including his constituency.

When asked to clarify whether his statement related to the Muslim community, he said: ‘Of course. 

‘If you look at the areas where we have seen rises and cases, the vast majority – not by any stretch of the imagination all areas – it is the BME communities that are not taking this seriously enough.’

Last night it was revealed Government scientists have warned there must be ‘sufficient headroom’ in the rate of infections for schools to reopen safely.

Minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies committee show that on June 23, it said there ‘may be a need to change measures at the end of the summer in order to be able to keep R [the infection rate] below 1 whilst proceeding with the planned reopening’.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics issued a warning over rising infection rates – its first since May.

Random testing suggests 4,200 people a day are getting infected in England. Although most do not show up in daily testing figures as they never develop symptoms, they can transmit the virus. Yesterday 880 tested positive – the highest daily number for a month.

Experts stressed the situation is nothing like as alarming it was in spring. And although officials are worried about a spike in parts of the North West – where lockdown restrictions have been tightened for more than four million people – rates of infection are still fairly low. 

Blackburn, the UK’s worst hotspot, has a weekly average of 83 cases per 100,000 people, which has fallen in the past week. 

Public Health England has named six places as ‘areas of concern’ including Northampton and Eden, Cumbria. Swindon in Wiltshire has also experienced a worrying surge.   

The British Chamber of Commerce said the halt to lockdown loosening would be a blow to firms trying to get back on their feet. 

And industry leaders from the beleaguered hospitality trade branded it ‘devastating’ for pubs, restaurants and holiday resorts across Britain.

Mr Johnson’s announcement also coincided with a 65-point slump in the FTSE as investor confidence reeled from the uncertainty.    

British Chamber of Commerce co-executive director Claire Walker said today: ‘While tackling the public health emergency must be the priority, these announcements – made at short notice – will be a hammer blow to business and consumer confidence at a time when many firms were just starting to get back on their feet.

‘Businesses communities need as much clarity as possible from government if they are to plan ahead and rebuild their operations in the coming months.

‘Ministers must also consider extending support to all firms, many of whom will be forced to close for an even more prolonged period, as well as targeted measures to help businesses placed under localised lockdowns.

Plans to allow wedding receptions for up to 30 people in England have been delayed, as has the reopening of ‘close contact’ services like beauticians, ice rinks and a pilot to get crowds back to sports venues. However, shielding measures are still being eased while workers will still be encouraged to go back to the office next month

The Prime Minister acknowledged that it was important to keep the advice being issued as simple as possible.

It comes after the Government was accused of creating confusion around new rules issued late on Thursday for parts of northern England. 

Mr Johnson said today: ‘The only real utensil we have (in) controlling the spread of this new virus is human behaviour, and the only way we can encourage people to behave in one way or the other is through advice.

‘And so you’re totally right, we need to keep it as simple as we possibly can and that’s why, to sum it up in a nutshell, is: hands, face, space.

‘Wash your hands, cover your face in the settings that we had mentioned and keep your distance from other people where you don’t know them, you’re coming into contact with them for the first time, and of course get a test and self-isolate if you have symptoms.

‘I hope that was pretty… you know, that was pretty punchy I think – hands, face, space, and get a test.

Mr Johnson and his Government have often attempted to use snappy phrases to get their messages across.

In March, people were told to wash their hands whilst singing happy birthday, while the ‘stay at home’ messaging was used during the early months of the pandemic before being dropped for ‘stay alert’.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also said that despite progress being made in combating the virus, the UK cannot think that it is exempt from a rise in cases.

He said: ‘I’ve also consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.

‘I’m afraid that in parts of Asia and in Latin America, the virus is gathering pace and some of our European friends are also struggling to keep it under control.

‘As we see these rises around the world, we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.’ 

UK Hospitality called on the Government to provide more business support after the news that measures due to be lifted tomorrow, including small wedding receptions and reopening bowling alleys and casinos, were postponed for at least two weeks.

Its chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘We understand that safety is the priority, but it is still devastating news for hospitality businesses.

‘They have spent a lot of time and money, which they can ill afford to lose at the minute, getting ready to reopen. For those people who work in those sectors, the security of their jobs remains uncertain.

‘We are also going to need further support for those businesses that cannot reopen. Full furlough ends tomorrow and businesses that remain closed are going to need help to protect jobs and keep their operations afloat.’ 

And Matthew Fell, the Confederation of British Industry’s chief UK policy Director, said: ‘This news will come as a real disappointment for some businesses, but firms know that public safety comes first. Businesses will continue to do what is necessary to avoid an infection spike.

‘Delayed reopening will unfortunately lead to even more financial pressure for some companies. So there may yet be a need for more direct support to shore up cash flow, including extended business rates relief.’

The announcements came after the Government last night said it was reimposing partial lockdown measures on 4.5 million people living in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, banning mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden, because of increasing case numbers. 

The decision to launch the crackdown at midnight prompted community leaders to accuse the Government of ‘an appalling abuse of power’ because it came at the start of Eid celebrations. Mr Johnson apologised this afternoon for the disruption the new restrictions will cause as he addressed the nation just a matter of weeks after saying he was aiming to get life in the UK back to normal ‘possibly in time for Christmas’. 

He said: ‘With those numbers [of cases] creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.

‘On Saturday August 1 we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher risk settings that remained closed. Today [yesterday] I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight. 

‘That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close contact services must remain closed, indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted but ceremonies of course can continue to take place in line with Covid secure guidelines’.  

He added: ‘I know that he steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people, to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted or cannot now celebrate Eid in the way that they would wish and I am really, really sorry about that but we simply cannot take the risk.’ 

Mr Johnson said the extension of the legally enforceable requirement to wear a face covering will apply from August 8. Currently the wearing of face masks in England is only required in shops and on public transport. 

He said: ‘We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.’

The PM said that ‘most people in this country are following the rules’ but he had asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to ‘work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced’.

He added: ‘It means a greater police presence to ensure face coverings are being worn where this is required by law.’

Despite the increase in infections Mr Johnson said plans to rip up work from home guidance remain ‘unchanged’ with workers still being encouraged to head back to their desks in August. 

And he also encouraged Britons to take staycations, saying he hopes to enjoy one himself. ‘I will be working flat out as you can imagine, though I may allow a brief staycation to creep into the agenda, if that’s possible,’ he said.  

Government statisticians yesterday admitted there is ‘now enough evidence’ to prove Covid-19 infections are on the up, calculating that 4,200 people are now catching the virus each day in England alone

Blackburn with Darwen – the worst-hit authority in the country – will be subject to the new rules, as will Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees as well as all of Greater Manchester

Crowds in Brighton: As Boris was making the announcement crowds of thousands beachgoers flocked to Brighton to enjoy the sun while the city pleaded with them to stay away. It is the fourth hottest day ever recorded in England with temperatures of 100F

Business leaders yesterday warned that Boris Johnson postponing a further easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown was a ‘hammer blow’ to the economy.

The British Chambers of Commerce said businesses and consumer confidence will be damaged again after the Prime Minister warned the UK ‘cannot be complacent’ amid a rise in the Covid-19’s prevalance in communities.

It comes as the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s leading firms was trading down by 72 points or 1.2 per cent at 5,918 by this afternoon in London, having initially been up at 6,043 this morning.

In a further blow to the economy, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that it might not be possible to ease lockdown further.

British Chamber of Commerce co-executive director Claire Walker said today: ‘While tackling the public health emergency must be the priority, these announcements – made at short notice – will be a hammer blow to business and consumer confidence at a time when many firms were just starting to get back on their feet. 

‘Businesses communities need as much clarity as possible from government if they are to plan ahead and rebuild their operations in the coming months.

‘Ministers must also consider extending support to all firms, many of whom will be forced to close for an even more prolonged period, as well as targeted measures to help businesses placed under localised lockdowns.

UKHospitality called on the Government to provide more business support after the news that measures due to be lifted tomorrow, including small wedding receptions and reopening bowling alleys and casinos, were postponed for at least two weeks.

Its chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘We understand that safety is the priority, but it is still devastating news for hospitality businesses.

‘They have spent a lot of time and money, which they can ill afford to lose at the minute, getting ready to reopen. For those people who work in those sectors, the security of their jobs remains uncertain.

Mr Johnson had earlier been accused of having ‘no regard for British Muslims’ after the Government announced its north of England lockdown decision late last night.

Mohammed Shafiq from the Ramadhan Foundation said the move to ban 4.5million people mixing for at least a week will ruin plans for thousands celebrating the religious festival in Manchester, east Lancashire and West Yorkshire until Monday night.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was this morning forced to deny that he had targeted Eid when announcing the Covid-19 restrictions as the religious holiday was about to start. 

Mr Shafiq said: ‘Already by the time the Government announced that on Twitter, families had already travelled to their loved ones’ homes and people have already started their Eid preparations. To make that decision on social media, with no regard for British Muslims is an appalling abuse of its power and shows how disconnected they are from wider society. I condemn the announcement and I hope they have learned a big lesson from this’.

Labour Bolton MP, Yasmin Qureshi, said today: ‘For the Government to make a major public health announcement on the eve of Eid Al Adha (on Twitter) in haste, without clarity or guidance is beyond disruptive, it’s irresponsible’.

But on Friday a Tory with a Parliamentary constituency on the edge of the lockdown zone accused ‘BAME communities of not taking this seriously enough’ as coronavirus cases have been rising in towns with large Muslim and minority populations such as Blackburn, Rochdale and Bradford.

Craig Whittaker, MP for the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, told LBC: ‘If you look at the areas where we’ve seen rises and cases, the vast majority – but not by any stretch of the imagination all areas – it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough.

‘We have areas of high multiple occupancy – when you have multiple families living in one household. It doesn’t specifically have to be in the Asian community, but that is the largest proportion. Look at the areas. You’ve got Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees. Bradford and Kirklees have two of the largest populations in West Yorkshire’.

The Health Secretary defended last night’s surprise announcement to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases across the region, which he made in a series of tweets at 9.15pm – less than three hours before the rules came into force. 

Residents in all of Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees are now banned from mixing with any other households indoors or in a garden to reduce Covid-19 infections.

But people can still visit pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops and places of worship as long as it is with people they live with and they avoid interaction with others outside their bubble.

Boris Johnson’s call for police to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor areas was yesterday branded ‘bonkers’ by officers.

The PM vowed a ‘greater police presence’ after it emerged officers fined just 13 people for not wearing face coverings on public transport in a two-week period last month.

He said masks musts be worn in galleries, cinemas and places of worship, as well as in shops and on trains and buses, while insisting the police will have to ensure the rules are being followed.

However, Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, told MailOnline the new policy was ‘impossible’ to enforce.

He said: ‘They want us to enforce the new rules in these other places now, but next door there might be a pub or a restaurant where people don’t have to wear a mask.

‘How do they want us to enforce it in places of worship? It’s impossible. We’re just veering from one thing to another, almost seemingly on an hourly basis, and it always ends up becoming the police’s problem.

‘If you go into big stores, you might see people with masks on but in the little high street shops, people just wander in and out without them and it’ll be the same with this.

‘We can’t enforce that. It has to be a collective social effort, we have to do this all together. They are losing the will of the police and the public in terms of what they are expecting from us.

‘Rank and file officers will be wondering if they are just being set up to get abuse. We’ve got demonstrations all over London this weekend but as far as I’m aware you’re still not allowed to meet in groups of more than 30.

The measures will be reviewed in a week’s time, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said.

Mr Hancock was yesterday asked whether the rules were aimed at stopping families getting together for Eid al-Adha, an Islamic festival that will run until Monday night. There is a large Muslim population in the north west. He told the BBC: ‘No. My heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important Eid celebrations are.’ 

There is anger as the strict restrictions were announced on social media just 165 minutes before lockdown began, with many people living in the zone likely to be unaware the new lockdown had started at all when they woke up this morning. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted the move as a ‘new low for the Government’s communications during this crisis’, while shadow business secretary Lucy Powell, who is the MP for Manchester Central, described it as a ‘disaster’. ‘With no one around to be able to answer some of the basic questions, I really think is not the way to build confidence and to take people with you and maximise compliance with these steps,’ she added. 

There is also confusion because some of the areas, such as Rossendale, have only seen three three confirmed coronavirus cases on any day since start of July. In Trafford, Greater Manchester, there have been around ten cases per day in a borough with 236,370 residents and infections are ‘very low’, despite a small rise in cases, officials said this week.

Local MP William Wragg said: ‘Greater Manchester is not a homogenous area. We must always err on the side of caution but to treat 10 boroughs the same is not the right approach.’ 

Spikes in Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen have both been driven by soaring rates among Asian communities, councillors have said. Arooj Shah, deputy leader of Oldham Council, confirmed they had seen a rise in cases among Oldham’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, which account for up to two thirds of overall new cases in the Manchester town. 

Eighty-five per cent of new Covid-19 infections in Blackburn with Darwen have been among people from South Asian heritage, which also make up around a fifth of the local authority’s residents. Around 20 per cent of Oldham’s population are from Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage, compared to the 2.8 per cent average in England and Wales.   

Mr Hancock yesterday admitted the Government had planned more ‘targeted, specific local action’ in Oldham and Blackburn but could see that coronavirus was ‘spreading more widely than that’ so ‘we had to take the action that we did’.

He said: ‘The reason for that is we’ve seen these increases across the board in Greater Manchester as well as the other areas that are affected.’ 

People wearing face masks have their temperatures checked before being allowed to go into Manchester Central Mosque to worship this morning as the city and much of the north-west was locked down

Matt Hancock yesterday denied targeting Eid celebrations with a last-minute move to introduce strict new lockdown restrictions. Pictured: A man wearing a facemask has his temperature checked before being allowed to go into Manchester Central Mosque

The new measures will affect 4.5million people living in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire (Manchester Central Mosque this morning)

The decision to impose lockdown at short notice has caused huge anger by those in the zone – and many are baffled by the rules

Coronavirus cases in England are now at the highest levels since May and government scientists are ‘no longer confident’ the crucial R rate is below the dreaded level of one. 

Government statisticians yesterday admitted there is ‘now enough evidence’ to prove Covid-19 infections are on the up, calculating that 4,200 people are now catching the virus each day in England alone.

The estimate by the Office for National Statistics, which tracks the size of the outbreak by swabbing thousands of people, has doubled since the end of June and is 68 per cent up on the 2,500 figure given a fortnight ago.

But experts believe the rate is twice as high in London and still rising. The figure does not include care homes and hospitals.

The move came amid fears Britain is heading for a second wave following a surge in infections in European countries including Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia.

Mr Johnson yesterday warned of a resurgence as the UK reported the highest daily total of Covid-19 cases for more than a month. There were 846 new infections, the greatest number recorded since June 28 when there were 901. 

Announcing the new regional lockdown last night, Mr Hancock said: ‘The action that we’ve taken across parts of northern England where we can see that increase in the number of cases is all about keeping people safe. 

‘What we’ve seen is one of the causes of this increase is households gathering together and ignoring the social distancing rules.

‘So we’re having to bring in firm action and say two households cannot meet indoors, because that way we can help to stop the spread of the virus. We can see a second peak coming in parts of Europe, that’s why we’ve taken some of the action we’ve had to.’

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell described the way in which the Government announced the new coronavirus restrictions on parts of northern England as a ‘disaster’.

Speaking on Times Radio, the MP for Manchester Central said: ‘I mean announcing them two hours before they come into effect is a bit of a bolt out of the blue.

‘With no one around to be able to answer some of the basic questions, I really think is not the way to build confidence and to take people with you and maximise compliance with these steps.’

She said she was ‘none of the wiser’ about the data that has led to widespread restrictions on parts of northern England, including in her own constituency. 

‘I follow the data extremely closely as a Member of Parliament and I’m still none the wiser about what the data is that has generated this action so swiftly across such a broad area’, she said.

‘If we had a much better track and trace system in place we’d be able to see much more clearly some of the localised nature or where these transmissions are actually occurring, and take action more strongly in a more localised fashion rather than across such a broad area.

‘We are still getting less than 50% of tests back within 24 hours and frankly that is just not good enough.’

‘There’s a huge number of questions here and it’s not clear to me what the data is that is sowing such significant change over the last few days that such widespread measures are necessary, and I think it’s something that I should know’. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised ministers for making the announcement at just before 10pm and on social media. He said: ‘Announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the Government’s communications during this crisis.’ 

Matt Hancock was grilled on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Friday morning about the latest restrictions in the North West and the decision to announce them at the eleventh hour last night.

Mr Hancock defended the move, saying: ‘If the Labour leadership in London doesn’t think that people across the north of England can follow social distancing rules when they’re announce, then they’re wrong.

‘People are very largely following the rules as we are bringing hem in and we do have to make changes because we’re trying to tackle a virus that spreads through social contact.

‘It’s one of the sad things about this virus, that it thrives on exactly the sort of social contact that we all love and that makes life worth living.’

Asked if the spikes in cases were being triggered because people were confused about what they can and can’t do following the easing of lockdown, Mr Hancock appeared to conceded that the rules had become ambigious.

He said: ‘Well we are bringing in more advertising to set out exactly what people need to do and make clear that the basics are still incredibly important – washing your hands, the use of face coverings and social distancing – and if you get symptoms you must get a test.’ 

The health secretary said the Government has not closed pubs or recommended people in the North West to start working from home again because the data showed the ‘spread was happening between households visiting each other and people visiting their family and friends’.

Mr Hancock added: ‘One of the features of this pandemic is that, in Government, we’ve had to take decisions swiftly and then announce them swiftly so people know about them.

‘We’ve done this with the local authorities, with officials of public health on the ground and talking to them about how we do it.’  

There was further concern that the restrictions – which affect areas with large Muslim populations – were announced hours before the celebration of Eid al-Adha began. Many compared it to cancelling Christmas at 10pm on Christmas Eve. 

Probed about whether last night’s late hasty announcement was made to block Eid celebrations, Mr Hancock said ‘no’. He added: ‘My heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas and I know how important Eid celebrations are.

‘I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, in fact across the country, who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have Covid-secure celebrations, for instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available, and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.’

The health secretary was then asked why meeting friends and families in outdoor gardens was being banned, to which he said: ‘Parks and outdoor public spaces are the safest option because for many people to go to a garden you have to go through a house and then you get more complicated rules. I think it’s just a human tendency that when you’re in your own home you do get closer.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised ministers for making the announcement at just before 10pm and on social media, describing it as ‘a new low’ for Government communications

Data from Public Health England released last week – the most recently available – showed how infection rates were changing in the 10 worst-hit authorities across the country

Coronavirus cases are going down in one area of Greater Manchester – even though lockdown restrictions have been placed on the entire region.

Official NHS statistics show infection rates have declined by 44 per cent in Rochdale over the past week.

All nine other boroughs – Bolton, Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Trafford, Salford, Bury, Wigan, and the city of Manchester – have been hit by a spike in outbreaks.

Local Tory MP William Wragg said treating all 10 boroughs the same was ‘not the right approach’.

Stockport, which is home to 290,000 people, saw the biggest rise in Covid-19 cases between July 21 and 27 – the most recent data.

Fifty-five people were diagnosed with the disease across the borough. This equates to a rate of 18.9 cases per 100,000 people – 150 per cent higher than it was the week before.

Trafford saw a 94 per cent rise to 39.3 and Oldham’s rate rose 90 per cent over the course of a week to 57.3, making it the second worst-hit authority in England.

Wigan also saw a 127 per cent spike over the last week – but its infection rate is much lower and currently stands at 7.7 cases for every 100,000 people.

Infection rates jumped by between 60 and 80 per cent in the city of Manchester (27.2), Bury (16.3), Tameside (16.0) and Salford (22.4).

The weekly rate in Rochdale – the seventh worst-hit area of England at the moment – dropped to 27.3.

Health chiefs only provide rolling weekly infection data for England’s upper-tier local authorities, which are often county councils.

It means it isn’t possible to see how outbreaks are growing in smaller regions, unless local health bosses release the data they have.

For example, figures show cases are still dropping slightly in Blackburn with Darwen (down 9 per cent to 83.3), which operates as a lone authority.

But other parts of the county hit by the lockdown restrictions – Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale – all fall under the bracket of Lancashire.

Lancashire’s infection rate currently stands at 10.9 – 6 per cent lower than the rate last week.

Bradford – one of the three areas of West Yorkshire hit by Matt Hancock’s tough new measures – has seen a 1 per cent increase in cases. Data shows its infection rate now stands at 45.8.

Calderdale’s has risen 64 per cent to 36.7. But the rate in Kirklees has dropped 23 per cent to 20.5.

However leisure bosses have criticised the Government’s ‘appalling, last-minute’ decision to delay the reopening of venues such as casinos and bowling alleys without providing scientific evidence to support it.

The sudden changes, meaning many indoor leisure venues can no longer reopen as expected on August 1, were announced by Boris Johnson on Friday afternoon.

Simon Thomas, founder and CEO of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, central London, said that the ‘ludicrous’ decision would have both a financial and emotional effect on the business.

‘We’re due to reopen in 12 hours and reopening a business like this is a complex process that takes weeks of preparation.

‘The investment has been probably somewhere around half a million pounds just to get the building ready to go.’

The six-floor Hippodrome Casino covers 80,000 square feet and employs 750 people to run its bars, restaurants and gaming floors.

‘The Hippodrome is the largest entertainment venue in the West End in London, it’s enormous and now putting it on hold, similarly costs a huge amount.’

Mr Thomas said that the casino was ‘burning £1 million a month’ while closed, adding that there would be a large emotional reaction to the news.

‘Many of my staff have been off for months, they’ve been back retraining, cleaning, preparing for the last two weeks and bringing them back has given them an emotional boost,’ he said.

‘The disappointment here is profound, and equally we’ve got thousands of customers all excited to be allowed to come back to a place they enjoy and are now very disappointed as well.

‘I think in any case it’s a ludicrous decision… there is zero evidence to suggest that casinos are higher risk than many of the sectors that have already reopened.’

Other businesses in the leisure sector also expressed frustration over the apparent lack of scientific evidence for keeping their doors shut.

Stephen Burns, chief executive of the Hollywood Bowl Group bowling chain, said the news was ‘incredibly disappointing and unexpected’.

‘There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that bowling is less safe than other activities which have been allowed to reopen and remain open,’ he said.

‘We have taken every possible precaution to make sure our customers can socially distance in our spacious centres with extensive hygiene protocols in place.

‘To hear this news at the last minute is devastating for our team members and customers looking forward to returning.’

Under the regional lockdown, meeting up with another household indoors at home will be banned, with police given powers to enforce it. 

Pubs and restaurants will stay open but customers will be advised not to visit them with people they do not live with. However, it is not thought that police will have enforcement powers if they refuse.

The current rules for England in general state two households can meet indoors – including in a pub or restaurant – but should not touch each other.

Official data shows that coronavirus cases are going down in one area of Greater Manchester – even though lockdown restrictions have been placed on the entire region. 

NHS statistics show infection rates have declined by 44 per cent in Rochdale over the past week.

All nine other boroughs – Bolton, Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Trafford, Salford, Bury, Wigan, and the city of Manchester – have been hit by a spike in outbreaks.

Local Tory MP William Wragg said treating all 10 boroughs the same was ‘not the right approach’.

Stockport, which is home to 290,000 people, saw the biggest rise in Covid-19 cases between July 21 and 27 – the most recent data.

Fifty-five people were diagnosed with the disease across the borough. This equates to a rate of 18.9 cases per 100,000 people – 150 per cent higher than it was the week before.

Trafford saw a 94 per cent rise to 39.3 and Oldham’s rate rose 90 per cent over the course of a week to 57.3, making it the second worst-hit authority in England.

Wigan also saw a 127 per cent spike over the last week – but its infection rate is much lower and currently stands at 7.7 cases for every 100,000 people.

Infection rates jumped by between 60 and 80 per cent in the city of Manchester (27.2), Bury (16.3), Tameside (16.0) and Salford (22.4).

The weekly rate in Rochdale – the seventh worst-hit area of England at the moment – dropped to 27.3. 

Health chiefs only provide rolling weekly infection data for England’s upper-tier local authorities, which are often county councils.

It means it isn’t possible to see how outbreaks are growing in smaller regions in Lancashire and Yorkshire unless local health bosses release the data they have.

For example, figures show cases are still dropping slightly in Blackburn with Darwen (down 9 per cent to 83.3), which operates as a lone authority.

But other parts of the county hit by the lockdown restrictions – Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale – all fall under the bracket of Lancashire.

Lancashire’s infection rate currently stands at 10.9 – 6 per cent lower than the rate last week.

Bradford – one of the three areas of West Yorkshire hit by Matt Hancock’s tough new measures – has seen a 1 per cent increase in cases. Data shows its infection rate now stands at 45.8.

Calderdale’s has risen 64 per cent to 36.7. But the rate in Kirklees has dropped 23 per cent to 20.5.

Mr Hancock said the regional measures had been imposed following a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee which comprises Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, senior officials from the Department of Health and Public Health England and some ministers and senior civil servants. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: ‘I ask all Greater Manchester residents – young and old alike – to protect each other by observing these new requirements’

The following locations have restrictions in place which are different to those set out across the whole of England. 

The lockdown covers a much greater area than Leicester’s, which was imposed on June 29 and will be eased from Monday.

Pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants will reopen in the locked-down city from August 3, Labour MP Liz Kendall announced last night.

People will also be permitted to go on holiday with their own household, but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed. 

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, urged locals to adhere to the new rules.

He said: ‘Over recent days, there has been a marked change in the picture across Greater Manchester with regard to the spread of Covid-19.

‘We have gone from a falling rate of cases in nearly all of our boroughs last week to a rising rate in nine out of 10 affecting communities across a much wider geography. 

‘We have always said that we will remain vigilant and be ready to respond quickly should the need arise. 

‘In line with that approach, I have agreed with the Health Secretary that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections.

‘I ask all Greater Manchester residents – young and old alike – to protect each other by observing these new requirements. They will be reviewed weekly; meaning the more we stick to them, the quicker they will be removed.

‘This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times.’

Sir Keir Starmer noted how when Downing Street concluded its daily briefings regarding the virus in June, ministers promised to still hold conferences for ‘significant announcements.’

Taking to Twitter, Sir Keir added: ‘No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

‘But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.

‘For all the bluster, government has failed to deliver a functioning track and trace system that would spot local flare ups like these.

‘The people of Greater Manchester now need urgent clarity and explanation from the government – and there must be proper support for those businesses and people affected by any lockdown.’

Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy added: ‘The Government’s shambolic announcement of local lockdown measures on Twitter tonight is the result of its total failure to deliver the functioning track and trace system it promised the country.

She tweeted: ‘The UK government is right to act quickly if they think the situation warrants it.

‘But this is a sharp reminder that the threat of this virus is still very real. Please abide by the all FACTS advice and stay safe.’

Mr Johnson had yesterday urged the UK not to ‘delude’ itself into thinking the pandemic was over as he warned of up to 30 places where outbreaks were ‘bubbling up’. 

On a visit to North Yorkshire, Mr Johnson said there would be ‘real consequences’ that would put the economic recovery in jeopardy if the virus was allowed to make a ‘damaging’ comeback.

His cautious message came as Mr Hancock warned there was a ‘second wave rolling across Europe’ and the country must ‘do everything in our power to stop it reaching our shores’.

Challenged on whether his remarks were risking hysteria at a time when infection levels in the UK are still significantly down from their peak, Mr Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’m the Health Secretary in the middle of a global pandemic, so you’ll excuse me for being concerned about the health of the British people and that is absolutely at the front of my mind.’

Ministers were yesterday warned not to fuel hysteria over a resurgence in the virus, with Labour MP Chris Bryant saying: ‘It makes me so angry that the Government are so loose with their language. There isn’t a second wave rolling out across Europe.’

Mr Johnson is also coming under pressure from within his own party not to panic over the rise in infection rates. 

A group of more than 30 backbenchers led by Henry Smith were expected to send him a letter Friday that calls for the introduction of testing at airports to help travellers reduce the length of time they have to quarantine for if they arrive from an at-risk country.

By the end of May, England had seen the highest overall relative excess mortality out of 21 European countries compared by the Office for National Statistics. But the hardest hit nations were Italy and Spain which suffered the largest spikes

The manner of the late-night announcement was criticised heavily by Keir Starmer, who said the sudden statement marked a ‘new low for the Government’s communications during this crisis’

Leisure centres, gyms and public swimming pools will stay closed and restrictions on household visits will stay in place. 

The city went through an extra month of lockdown, imposed at the end of last month, while the rest of the country saw restrictions lifted. 

And its residents were hoping the government would announce a complete end to their local lockdown. 

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last night on Twitter that people from different households in Leicester, and other parts of northern England, wouldn’t be allowed to meet indoors.  

Leicester’s mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, told The Times: ‘We’ve been messed about all day. They were going to make the announcement earlier, then 4pm then 5pm. 

‘I haven’t a clue what’s going on. I don’t even know who’s taking the decision and they certainly don’t involve anybody who knows anything about our city. 

Leicester’s lockdown saw restrictions lifted on schools and nurseries last week and some non-essential shops were allowed to reopen. 

Mosques and other places of worship will also be reopened and Jon Ashworth, the Labour MP for Leicester South, urged Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Adha ‘with your own household at home’.   

Liz Kendall, the Labour MP for Leicester West, said the government’s handling of the local lockdown had been ‘totally shambolic’.  

According to Public Health England, roughly 164 have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Leicester in the past week – 0.05 per cent of its population.    

Before the dispute about the local lockdown Mr Hancock announced a £3million package for companies that had been unable to reopen in Leicester.

 He said: ‘I absolutely understand the huge implications remaining in lockdown has meant for those in the city.’

Lord Lamont, the Tory ex-chancellor, last night urged ministers not to lose focus on the economic recovery and warned them against taking blanket measures across the whole economy.

He said: ‘The one thing we cannot afford is another total lockdown. The economy has got a long uphill struggle.’ 

The Mail revealed earlier this week how the Prime Minister is ‘extremely concerned’ about the possibility a second spike of infections could start in the next two weeks. 

His remarks in recent days come in stark contrast to his message a fortnight ago when he expressed hope that all social distancing restrictions may be ditched in time for Christmas.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson insisted Britain has had ‘massive success’ in bringing down mortality rates but warned: ‘I have to tell you we’re looking at a resurgence of the virus in some other European countries, you can see what’s been happening in the United States.

‘So it is absolutely vital as a country we continue to keep our focus and discipline, and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over, because it isn’t all over.’

Despite the rise in the level of infections, the numbers are still way below the peak on May 1 when 6,201 cases were confirmed in just one day.

Mr Smith, whose Crawley constituency includes Gatwick Airport, last night said: ‘Testing should play a much larger role in giving people confidence to travel.’

Do I have to cancel my wedding? Can I still celebrate Eid? Your questions answered as 4.5million people in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire are hit by new lockdown

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night that people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire will be banned from meeting each other in their homes and in their gardens from midnight.

The new restrictions apply to the whole of Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire including Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale as well as Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire.

The same restrictions will also apply to Leicester, which saw the first so-called ‘local lockdown’ imposed on June 29.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that the new measures will mean people in these areas will not be permitted to mix with other households outside those in their support bubbles in private homes or gardens.

Households will be able to go to bars, pubs and other hospitality venues but two households should not go together, the department added.

The DHSC said that restrictions currently in place in Blackburn which saw indoor swimming pools, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor gyms and sports facilities remaining closed will continue.

In a series of tweets Mr Hancock said that there had been an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.

He said that this was due to ‘households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules’ and the new rules were being put in place in order to ‘keep the country safe’.

The Government said it will sign new regulations to make the changes ‘legally enforceable’ and will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions.

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.

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 would also apply to the city of Leicester.

Your household – as defined in law – is only the people you live with. If you have formed a support bubble (which must include a single adult household i.e. people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) these can be treated as if they are members of your household.

It will be illegal for people who do not live together to meet in a private home or garden, except for limited exceptions to be set out in law. You should not host or visit people you do not live with, unless they are in your support bubble. If you live in the affected areas, you should not visit someone’s home or garden regardless of whether this is in or outside of the restricted area.

Yes. Where people from single adult households (people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) have formed a support bubble with another household, they can continue to visit each other, stay overnight, and visit other public places as if they were one household.

In line with the national guidance, you can continue to meet in public outdoor spaces in groups of no more than six people, unless the group includes only people from two households. You cannot meet people you do not live within a private garden.

At all times, you should socially distance from people you do not live with – unless they are in your support bubble.

I live in this area. Can I still meet with my family and friends to celebrate Eid?

Due to higher rates of infection, if you live in this area you should not host or visit friends and family in each other’s homes or gardens. It will shortly be illegal to do so, unless specific exemptions apply. You also should not meet friends and family in other venues – including restaurants or cafes.

Up to two households, or six people from any number of households may meet outdoors (excluding people’s gardens) where there is a lower risk of infection. If you do so, you should still socially distance from those you do not live with, and avoid physical contact.

You may attend a mosque or other place or worship, where Covid-19 Secure guidance applies, but you must socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings). We recommend at this time that, if possible, prayer/religious services take place outdoors.

Yes. People living inside and outside of this area can continue to travel in and out for work. Workplaces must implement Covid-19 Secure guidance.

I live in this area. Can I still go to cafes, restaurants, the gym and other public places?

Yes. But you should only go with members of your own household – even if you are going outside of the restricted area.

I live in the area. Can people from outside of the lockdown area visit me at my house?

Clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer have to follow the shielding guidance from the 1 August, unless they live in Blackburn with Darwen in the North West and other local affected areas across England where shielding continues.

You should not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies in these areas can still go ahead. No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. Further guidance can be found here.

Large wedding receptions or parties should not currently be taking place and any celebration after the ceremony should follow the broader social distancing guidance of involving no more than two households in any location or, if outdoors, up to six people from different households.

Yes. Weddings should be limited to no more than 30 people and subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

People living outside the lockdown areas may travel into the areas to attend a wedding, but should not go into a private home or garden.

Yes, but you must socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (e.g. face coverings). We recommend at this time that if possible prayer/religious services take place outdoors.

Yes. Funerals should be limited to no more than 30 people and subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

Can I holiday in the lockdown area, or visit shops, leisure facilities, or cafes in it?

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or social bubble. If you need to, try to:

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the measures would be reviewed on a weekly basis. 

Share what you think

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.

You can choose on each post whether you would like it to be posted to Facebook. Your details from Facebook will be used to provide you with tailored content, marketing and ads in line with our Privacy Policy.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMifmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmRhaWx5bWFpbC5jby51ay9uZXdzL2FydGljbGUtODU4MjAxNS9Qcm9mZXNzb3ItQ2hyaXMtV2hpdHR5LXN1Z2dlc3RzLUJyaXRvbnMtc2FjcmlmaWNlLW1lZXRpbmctZnJpZW5kcy1mYW1pbHkuaHRtbNIBggFodHRwczovL3d3dy5kYWlseW1haWwuY28udWsvbmV3cy9hcnRpY2xlLTg1ODIwMTUvYW1wL1Byb2Zlc3Nvci1DaHJpcy1XaGl0dHktc3VnZ2VzdHMtQnJpdG9ucy1zYWNyaWZpY2UtbWVldGluZy1mcmllbmRzLWZhbWlseS5odG1s?oc=5

News – Chris Whitty suggests Britons will have to sacrifice meeting friends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *