Friday 31 July 2020 11:27 am

Lockdown in north-west England: What are the new rules?

Last night health secretary Matt Hancock announced via Twitter that millions of people in northern England would be subject to new restrictions after an increase in coronavirus cases.

The new rules, which met with criticism over how they were announced, apply to people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.

The measures were announced with just two hours notice at 9pm last night, after a meeting between Hancock and local leaders. They will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Chiefly, the new rules mean that as of midnight last night people from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens.

Here’s a breakdown of the new government guidance.

Who can I meet?

Under the new restrictions, you will not be able to meet people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble.

In addition, you cannot visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of the affected areas.

Nor can people outside the affected area visit you in your home.

Furthermore, you cannot socialise with people you do not live with in other indoor public venues – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions. 

However, you may attend these venues with people you live with (or are in a support bubble with), as long as you avoid interaction with others.

The government has said that it will pass new laws to enforce the changes to the rules. The police will also be able to take action against those that break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £100.

Can I go to work or to the pub?

People who live inside and outside of this area can continue to travel in and out for work, as along as workplaces are implementing Covid-19 Secure guidance.

Likewise, you can go to cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as other leisure facilities like gyms, but only with members of your household.

That is unless you live in Blackburn, Bradford or Darwen, where indoor gyms, indoor dance studios, sports facilities and indoor swimming pools must remain closed by law. 

Weddings and funerals can still take place following the national guidance, with a limit of 30 attendees for both types of events.

You can travel in and out of the affected area in order to attend one of the above.

Do I have to shield?

No – clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer have to follow the shielding guidance from 1 August, unless they live in Blackburn with Darwen in the North West.

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

Can I celebrate Eid with family and friends?

The restrictions have been put in place as many Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid this weekend.

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, the government said. 

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, but not in a private garden.

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.