Preston to be included in northern coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Preston is to be included in additional restrictions seen in other parts of Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. Credit: PA

Preston is to be included in additional lockdown restrictions that apply to parts of East Lancashire, Greater Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire from midnight.

People living in the city will not be allowed to have other people in their homes and gardens, visit people in unaffected areas in their homes or gardens or mix with people from other households at indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

The move comes after Preston was designated an "area of intervention" by the government following a spike in cases.

Social bubbles will be exempt from the restrictions and people can meet in groups of up to six in outdoor settings.

Restrictions already in place in other areas of Northern England will remain in place and be reviewed next Friday.

The announcement was made by the Department of Health and Social Care this afternoon.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The past week has been difficult for many people in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, and I thank everyone in these areas for their patience and willingness to follow the rules.

“Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee, and unfortunately, the data does not yet show a decrease in the transmission of this terrible virus.

"It means we must keep the current restrictions in place to allow more time for the impact of this ban on indoor gatherings to be felt, and make sure local residents and their loved ones are protected. At the request of the local area, we are also extending these restrictions to Preston."

Extra coronavirus testing will be brought into Preston as a result of the new restrictions. Credit: PA

Adrian Phillips, Chief Executive at Preston City Council, said: "The number of cases in Preston have increased rapidly in recent days leading to Government categorising the city as an area of intervention. It is also alarming to see that the under 30s are contracting it at a significant rate.

"It is clear that coronavirus is still here and we all need to work together to keep ourselves, our friends, families and communities safe from this virus.

"While some wards have recorded a higher level of cases, this remains a city wide issue and it’s essential that we all do our part to fight the virus.

"We’re urging everyone to be diligent and follow the restrictions, in order to protect all of our residents, communities and businesses."

Face coverings will be mandatory in more settings. Credit: PA

Angie Ridgwell, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council and Chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum which is leading the response to coronavirus in the county, added: "We understand that these restrictions are going to be disruptive to many people but it is a necessary step to protect the health of everyone in Preston and beyond.

"It is vitally important that everyone plays their part by adhering to these new restrictions. I want to be very clear – if we do not see a reduction in infections it is highly likely that more stringent measures will be introduced."

Preston City Council and the Lancashire Resilience Forum have said they will be working closely with businesses to implement "necessary safety measures to protect customers".

The council have also said that they will take enforcement action where business are not complying with regulations.

A Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) spokesperson said: "The Mayor of Greater Manchester and Leaders agreed on Wednesday that the heightened restrictions should continue in the city-region for another week.

"Alongside the continued measures, Greater Manchester will be taking further action locally over the next seven days. Targeted enforcement will be taking place, such as mystery shoppers visiting pubs and restaurants to ensure they are complying and taking down customer’s details.

"We will also continue to focus on communicating direct and simple messaging to the public, especially with younger people, to make sure it is clear there should be no social visits to homes while these restrictions remain in place.

"However, we also need the Government to improve the test and trace system. Ministers must ensure people have the financial support to be able to immediately self-isolate and we need under-utilised national centre staff urgently redeployed to local areas."