Bolton Council asks for town to remain in lockdown

1 September 2020, 14:53 | Updated: 1 September 2020, 20:47

Bolton is now edging closer to reaching the government's red threshold on coronavirus cases
Bolton is now edging closer to reaching the government's red threshold on coronavirus cases. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Bolton Council has asked for additional coronavirus restrictions to remain in place after a 'sudden' spike in cases.

The Greater Manchester town, which is home to nearly 300,000 people, was due to come out of lockdown on Wednesday - but a rise in cases has prompted local leaders to rethink the move.

There were 56.9 cases per 100,000 people over the previous seven days, which is the town's highest rate since the end of May.

This is up from 18.4 cases recorded in the previous seven days, and is past the government's red threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 people.

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In response, the council called an emergency meeting on Tuesday and requested the government to keep lockdown restrictions in place.

This could mean businesses due to open tomorrow would not be able to, and restrictions on people from different households meeting indoors and in private gardens would remain.

Bolton council leader David Greenhalgh said such a move would be "incredibly disappointing" for residents and business owners, but stressed local leaders had "no choice".

He added: "We urged the government to lift Bolton out of the additional restrictions at a time when infection rates were low.

"This was the right decision at the time.

"However, there has been a sudden and unforeseeable rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Bolton.

"We have always been led by the data, which means we have no choice but to act quickly to keep everyone safe."

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Trafford, too, has seen a spike coronavirus infections despite also being due to release its lockdown on Wednesday.

The nearby borough has recorded a seven-day case rate of 35.8 per 100,000, which is up from 19.0, and is the highest rate for the area since late July.

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This rise also comes despite less testing being carried out, according to local councillor Andrew Western, who said on Twitter that he had written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock for clarity on lifting restrictions.

He said: "We need to hear from government today what their plan is now they’ve created this mess; Andy Burnham and I will be writing today urgently to seek clarity and action plan."

The reasons behind the latest spike in cases across Trafford are not immediately clear; however, analysis from Bolton's council said transmissions between different households seem to be the source of its own spike.

Infections did not appear to be limited to a single area in Bolton, and people aged 18-49 were making up the vast majority of new cases.

Meanwhile, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has asked the government to provide details on rolling back restriction "as soon as safely possible" amid the confusion.

A spokesperson said: "It is clear that more targeted, hyper-local door-to-door action is more effective than broad geographical restrictions. That is why the mayor and leaders want to agree an exit strategy with the government for the current restrictions.

"However, before that is in place, it is accepted that the restrictions will need to continue in eight boroughs in the short term.

"As soon as practically and safely possible, we want to see the whole of Greater Manchester coming back into line with the rest of country but with funding to provide enhanced local interventions where they are needed."