Lancashire will be placed into the most stringent restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week, the government has announced.
Lancashire’s political leaders had requested a more targeted approach, with areas with lower infection rates going into Tier 2 and those with higher rates into Tier 3.
Instead, the entire Lancashire area will be in the “very high alert” tier, which means that socialising is banned indoors and in most outdoor places with people you don’t live with or who are in your bubble; most hospitality, accommodation and entertainment venues will be closed and people should work from home where they can.
Shops, leisure centres and gyms, and personal care services such as hairdressers and barbers, will be permitted to open. Places of worship can open, but people cannot interact with anyone they don’t live with.
Councillor Karen Buckley said: “Our infection rates in Fylde are still on the high side and the pressures at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in terms of Covid admissions are concerning although they are declining, which is good. We are going in the right direction and I urge everyone to stay cautious and follow the guidance so that we really do turn the corner. Our hospitality sector on the Fylde Coast is badly affected and the announcement of Tier 3 is a further blow to these businesses, some of whom will struggle to survive. Business support is available from the council but I recognise that this will not meet all needs and I, along with colleagues across Lancashire, are continuing to call for a meaningful settlement from Government to help save as many businesses as possible.”
The full details of the restrictions are on the gov.uk website.
Angie Ridgwell, chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, said: “Whilst we’re disappointed that the government didn’t take into account Lancashire’s large and complex geography, what this decision does do is make crystal clear what everyone needs to do in Lancashire to drive infection rates down.
“By our collective efforts, we have made substantial progress over the past number of weeks, and this work needs to continue in the coming weeks. We’ve done so well to drive down the rates of infection, we don’t want to lose those gains now. By continuing to work together and build on this work so that in the forthcoming reviews we can show that Lancashire can go into tier 2.
“Coronavirus continues to have a devastating effect on our communities and our economy and we know that our hospitality in particular is suffering greatly. The sooner we can get these restrictions eased, the sooner these sectors can start to rebuild, so it’s more important than ever for us all to play our part.”
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health, added: “We are starting to see really positive signs across Lancashire. In some areas we are significantly below the national average for coronavirus, and in all areas we are going in the right direction.
“But we have to keep this up, as this will be the fastest way for us to get Lancashire into a lower tier. And the guidance remains the same – hands, face and space.
“It’s important as Christmas approaches that we don’t lose all the gains we’ve made in the last few months. What we do before and during the Christmas season matters most to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s make smart choices about who we meet and keep everyone safe, until we get a well-functioning test, trace and isolate programme, and of course vaccinations.”
The government says it will review the tiers fortnightly.