Oldham council leader warns local lockdown would be 'really, really catastrophic'

A Resident in Oldham stands in his doorway with the Manchester skyline behind, the town in Greater Manchester has seen cases of coronavirus rise in the area.
There have been restrictions on social contact in Oldham and the rest of Greater Manchester for the last two weeks. Credit: PA

The leader of Oldham council has urged ministers not to impose a local lockdown - warning that it could be "really catastrophic" for the town.

The latest figures from Public Health England show Oldham has the third highest rate of cases in the country.

Sean Fielding told the Today programme that the "raw numbers" may suggest the town is similar to Leicester at the point it was put into local lockdown.

"However we're strongly making the case up here in Oldham that would not be the right solution for the wave of the pandemic that we're seeing in Oldham," he said.

He argued that household transmission is driving infections in Oldham, most cases are among the working age population and there is little increase in hospital admissions or deaths.

PA Credit: People in Oldham are being asked to limit social contact to reduce the risk of a local lockdown in the town.

'Really, really catastrophic for businesses'

The labour councillor pointed out that a local lockdown would be especially difficult for the working age population.

He added "It's different to Leicester because Leicester never really properly reopened, this could be hundreds of businesses that have made themselves Covid-secure, spent money in doing so, reopened, traded for a short time, being asked to close again and the likelihood is many of those having done all of that would simply not be able to reopen once the restrictions are lifted again."

Meanwhile, Game Of Thrones actor James Cosmo has warned residents in Oldham that "lockdown is coming" unless they abide by coronavirus guidelines.

Cosmo played Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, in the hit show, which concluded last year with its eighth series.

But with the Greater Manchester town recording 197 new coronavirus cases in the seven days to August 15, Oldham Council engaged the services of the 72-year-old for a different task.

Houses of Oldham, it's your Lord Commander," Cosmo said in a video for the council.

"Lockdown is coming if you don't act now and follow the coronavirus guidelines, so stay safe and follow the guidance ... everyone stay safe, and God bless you."

The video cost just over £40 to produce, while the council confirmed that the actor would be donating all proceeds to the NHS.

Cosmo is not the first star to have been approached by Oldham Council for such a job - earlier in August Inbetweeners actor James Buckley was asked to film his own message reminding residents of coronavirus guidelines.