***Issued on behalf of Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackpool Council and Lancashire’s 12 district councils.
• Bars and pubs to close tonight, other venues from Monday
• No socialising with people unless you live with them or they’re in your support bubble
• Government pledges additional support for businesses and residents
Lancashire has been moved into the “very high” Covid alert level by government.
It means that there will be significant additional restrictions on people and businesses across the entire area. Pubs and bars are to close from 0001 on Saturday and residents will only be allowed to socialise with people they live with or those in their social bubble in any indoor setting or private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
From 0001 on Monday, the following venues will also close:
• Licensed clubs
• Adult gaming centres
• Bingo halls
• Bookmakers and betting shops
• Children’s soft play centres
Car boot sales will also be prohibited, and universities are being asked to move to remote learning where possible.
The decision is accompanied by a support package for Lancashire to help minimise the impact on Lancashire’s businesses and residents. New, local arrangements and funding will also be introduced for test and trace to give Lancashire more control of the contact tracing process.
Speaking on behalf of Lancashire’s leaders, Lancashire County Council’s leader Geoff Driver CBE said:
“Across Lancashire, the coronavirus situation is serious and getting worse. Lancashire’s leaders all agree that, as we approach winter, urgent action has to be taken now to ensure the county is not overwhelmed by the virus.
“After major negotiations with government, we have agreed a bespoke deal for Lancashire that means our businesses and residents will receive extra support that will not be available elsewhere in the country.
“I want to thank all of the Lancashire leaders for the constructive and meaningful discussions we have had over the past week. The deal has presented real challenges for some and they have only been able to sign up with reluctance, but we have been willing to work across party lines so that we can hammer this out with government.
“These new restrictions will affect us all, but we know they will be particularly harsh on those who make their living in our hospitality sector. It is a vital and valued part of our economy and we are all committed to maximising the support we can give as a result of this deal.”
As the new restrictions come in, the directors of public health for Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool made a joint plea to the public to stick to the rules.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Professor Dominic Harrison and Dr Arif Rajpura said: “We are at a very dangerous phase of the pandemic. Infection rates are going up across Lancashire, hospitals are getting busier and people are quite frankly sick of coronavirus and just want life to return to normal.
“That’s something we all want, but we have to level with you – it isn’t happening any time soon. All of our lives have been affected by coronavirus and will continue to be so until we have a vaccine.
Now that Lancashire has entered tier three the next month is critical to getting the virus under control.
“In the meantime, as public health professionals we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect the people of Lancashire and we are working night and day to do so. But you also have a role to play as well to protect yourself, your family and your community. By sticking to the restrictions – even though we know it’s hard – and following the simple guidance around hands, face and space you will help limit the spread of coronavirus.
Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “It’s imperative that we all work together and follow the rules so that the restrictions will be eased sooner.
“None of us want to be in this situation but abiding now will help us bring the infection rates down and safe lives. We’ve taken a common-sense approach to policing the regulations throughout the pandemic and this will not change.”
“Our first priority is to engage with people and explain the rules, but we do want to be clear that we will enforce them where we need to, especially around repeat offenders, significant gatherings and people who deliberately flout the regulations and put others at risk.”
Find out exactly what you can or cannot do under the very high alert level at https://www.gov.uk/