Lockdown restrictions to be eased in parts of northern England

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Coronavirus restrictions are to be eased in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas, including soft play areas, will be able to lawfully reopen on Tuesday in all three places, apart from Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Socially distanced indoor performances will also be able to resume, and restrictions will be lifted on close contact services such as treatments on the face, such as eyebrow threading or make-up application.

However the rate of infection is still too high in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire to allow lifting restrictions on gatherings.

And Mr Hancock said: “The rates of infection remain too high in Bolton for these easements to be applied and further work is now under way with local leaders.”

Matt Hancock lockdown restrictions
Matt Hancock urged people to follow local rules (Policy Exchange/PA)

This will bring these locations in line with the national lockdown rules brought in on July 25.

However in Leicester, there will still be a series of restrictions that will be reviewed next Friday, including on indoor gatherings.

Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas will remain closed, socially distanced indoor performances will not be allowed and restrictions on certain close contact services will remain.

The changes come after discussions with local leaders, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and the Chief Medical Officer for England.

Mr Hancock said: “I’m very glad we’ve been able to make this change, working with local councils, because local lockdowns are working to control the virus.

“We are seeing improvements in the rates of infection thanks to the huge efforts made by local communities and authorities working alongside our effective Test and Trace system.

“We must stay alert and I continue to encourage everyone to play their part by following local rules, self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.”

Andy Burnham, lockdown restrictions
Andy Burnham welcomed the announcement on easing lockdown restrictions (Martin Rickett/PA)

Norfolk, Rossendale and Northampton will be classed as “areas of enhanced support”, meaning the Government will work with local authorities to provide additional resources – such as testing or contact tracing.

Newark and Sherwood, Slough and Wakefield were removed from the watchlist.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “We have been asking the Government to consider easing restrictions on business opening across Greater Manchester and welcome the Secretary of State’s positive announcement today.

“There is no evidence that these businesses are causing the spread of the virus and we know that these premises are making arrangements to operate in a safe way.

“It is understandable that this won’t apply in Bolton for the time being, but we will be working hard with Bolton Council and partners to move to a position where the restrictions on business opening can be eased as soon as possible.

“However, it is important people continue to follow the rules on no social gatherings in the home and the public health advice on washing hands, face coverings and social distancing.”

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