OLDHAM residents have been told not to meet ANYONE outside their household from midnight on Saturday but will avoid a full lockdown, local leaders have said today.
After a spike in cases even more rules are going to come into place for the town, along with Blackburn and Parts of Pendle.
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Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding said rather than having a full lockdown like in Leicester – where businesses would shut again – they would have more targeted measures to control the spread.
Pubs, restaurants and offices can remain open, but extra restrictions on social interaction will come into play.
People can still go to work and use childcare as normal, but won’t be permitted extra social meet-ups from midnight on Saturday.
Oldham now has a coronavirus rate of 103.1 per 100,000, with Blackburn and Pendle reaching 95.3 and 75.5.
It was also confirmed this lunchtime:
Mr Fielding said in a video this lunchtime: “The new restrictions mean is that social mixing between households in any setting – will now be prohibited.”
People will not be able to meet up in parks or pubs with anyone – except the people they live with.
Local restaurants will also be encouraged to halt walk-ins, and only seat people who make reservations in advance, up to a maximum of 6 people per table.
The number of people able to attend weddings and funerals will be slashed to 20.
More testing will also take place to try and monitor where the virus is spreading.
Residents are also not to use public transport unless necessary, in a significant tightening of the rules.
Whitehall was pushing for tougher measures but were hit by a backlash from regional leaders.
The MP for Oldham, Jim McMahon said at the news: “The sooner we bring the virus rates down, the sooner we can meet extended family and friends again.
“I know we have all made sacrifices, and I know many of you have really been affected by the virus and the lockdown restrictions. Stay safe and look out for each other.”
He said “a widespread economic lockdown would have been wrong.” and would have needlessly closed businesses down when they weren’t a factor in spreading the virus.
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Authority said: “Greater Manchester’s leaders’ main objective this week was to avoid a local lockdown in Oldham so we are glad we have been able to agree this with the Government.
“Our second objective was to ensure areas with consistently low infection rates were taken out of the restrictions so the decision on Wigan’s restrictions being lifted is a welcome one.
“We have all been concerned about the situation in Oldham and this is why we have sought to work in partnership both with the local council and the Government to agree the most suitable and effective measures, as set out by Oldham Council.
“Increased measures to restrict the mixing of households are a much more sensible approach than local lockdown. We are pleased that the Health Secretary has listened to what leaders said in their letter to him yesterday.”
Meanwhile Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen are to be released from the new rules after a drop in cases.
Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said he’d just spoken with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock and it was “really welcome news for our area.”
He told constituents in a video on Facebook: “We’re taking a much more targeted approach.
“Because of the huge effort, Rosendale and Darwen will be coming out of the increased restrictions that we have seen over the last few weeks.
“Where we live here is going to be covered by the normal national restrictions.”
We have reached agreement with the Government that Oldham will not go in to full local economic lockdown. Some additional restrictions will be introduced, however. More to follow… pic.twitter.com/AUO3PeHOCI
Cases of COVID-19 are rising quickly in Birmingham, the Department said this lunchtime, with 30.2 cases per 100,000.
They have added Birmingham to the “areas of concern” watchlist but for now they will to face any additional restrictions.
4.3 per cent of people are testing positive – and half of cases are among young people aged 18 – 34.
Local leaders have put the city on the watchlist for extra support.
More people will be tested and health officials sent in to try and work out what to do next.
Matt Hancock will meet local council leaders and Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor today for urgent talks.
It’s understood that public health officials don’t know what has cases the recent spike in cases, and are determined to get to the bottom of the outbreak.
Northampton’s local rate has hit 125.1 per 100,000 people in the week to the 13 August after a sandwich factory that supplies to Marks & Spencer suffered an outbreak of the virus.
And local testing data and analysis from the Joint Biosecurity Centre shows this spike is almost solely down to an outbreak linked to the workforce at the Greencore Factory where nearly 300 workers have tested positive.
The factory will close voluntarily from today, and employees and their direct households will be required to isolate at home for two weeks, the Department for Health said.
Anyone leaving their isolation will be subject to a fine.
Northampton has been upgraded on the watch list, with extra measures added for people who work at the factory.
Birmingham and Slough have been added, with officials keeping a close eye on their cases in the coming days.
Meanwhile, a separate watchlist which emerges from the use of the Covid-19 symptom app also showed other hotspots and areas of concern.
Areas in the Midlands and Scotland have crept onto the list this week although experts have revealed cases are down across the country.
The latest figures estimate that 20,299 people have symptomatic Covid in the UK.