Coronavirus: New measures for Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport bringing UK residents in lockdown to 17.5 million

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Tom Clarke

More than 17.5 million people will be living under extra coronavirus restrictions, as new measures were announced for Leeds and more towns in the north west of England.

Matt Hancock confirmed there would be new restrictions on inter-household mixing in private dwellings and gardens for Leeds, Stockport, Wigan and Blackpool in a written statement to the Commons.

The health secretary said: "People who live in these areas will not be allowed to gather in a private dwelling or garden with any other household unless in a support bubble.

"People from anywhere else will also not be allowed to gather with another household in a private dwelling or garden in these areas."Mr Hancock also confirmed the current restrictions in place in Leicester, the Borough of Oadby and Wigston, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Bolton, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Greater Manchester will stay in place.He acknowledged it would be "difficult news" for the people living in those areas.

Hancock said: “We continue to see an acceleration of COVID-19 cases across the country, especially in the North West and the North East.

"Working alongside our scientific and public health experts and local leaders, we are prepared to take swift and decisive action to reduce transmission of the virus and protect communities.

“I recognise the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections.

An additional 6,874 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the UK on Friday, the highest number ever recorded.

New data confirmed today the reproduction rate of coronavirus (R number) has increased to above 1.0 in all parts of England.

With the addition of Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport to the local lockdown list, almost the entire north west of England is now subject to enhanced measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Blackpool Tory MP Scott Benton said new measures in place for the seaside town will bring it in line with the rest of Lancashire.

He said the infection rate had risen from 23 per 100,000 earlier this month to 63 per 100,000 on Wednesday.

In Wales, Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

People will not be able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse. They will not be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with, with extended households suspended.

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It means an estimated 17.5 million people across the UK were living under additional coronavirus measures, on top of those announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In Leeds, council leader Judith Blake said she realised no-one welcomed the extra measures.

She said: “The safety of the city and the public simply has to come first and we have now reached a point where we all need to take additional steps to contain the spread of this terrible virus within our communities.”

At an online news conference, reporters were told these measures were expected to be in place all winter.

Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council chief executive, said: “What we are trying to do is give a simple message – you shouldn’t really mix with other households.”

The latest seven-day Covid-19 rate in Leeds was found to be 98.5 per 100,000 people, with an 8.4% positive test rate.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Redcar & Cleveland (Teesside) have been escalated to areas of enhanced support.

Credit: PA

London is being made an “area of concern”, according to London Councils, a cross-party organisation which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London.

Sadiq Khan has called on household visits to be banned in London to combat the spread.

Mr Khan said the extent of coronavirus in the capital might be being masked by what he said was a 43% fall in Covid tests between mid-August and mid-September.

No additional measures will be taken in the city, but testing capacity will be boosted to closely monitor the growth of the virus.

In a statement, London Councils urged residents to follow the new Government restrictions introduced on Thursday.

It said rising cases were a “stark reminder that now is time for all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.