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Tough coronavirus restrictions imposed on North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire
18 September 2020, 12:15 | Updated: 18 September 2020, 16:30
The North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire have all been hit with tough new coronavirus restrictions after a surge in new cases.
From Tuesday, all affected areas will be banned from mixing with other households outside of support bubbles in a move that mirrors restrictions enacted in the North East overnight last night.
This includes Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire (excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester) in the North West; Wolverhampton and Oadby & Wigston in the Midlands; and Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale in West Yorkshire.
In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire, hospitality and entertainment venues will be subject to table service only, and will have a nightly curfew between 10pm and 5am.
Residents in these areas have also been advised to only use public transport for essential journeys, which include travelling to work and school.
Spectating at amateur or semi-professional sporting events has been advised against.
With the additional restrictions announced on Friday off the back of the North East being dealt the same a day earlier, there are now an estimated 14 million people affected across the UK.
In a statement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 had been rising "fast" and insisted the government was "acting decisively" to protect local communities.
In Liverpool, rates have increased to 100.6 cases per 100,000 people, while Warrington has seen a rise to 112.2.
Oadby and Wigston, meanwhile, has skyrocketed to 145.5, and Wolverhampton to 61.8.
Mr Hancock added: "I know these restrictions will make every-day life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.
"I urge local people to isolate and get a test if you have symptoms, follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace, and always remember ‘hands, face, space’. By sticking to these steps, we will get through this together."
In a further update, the statement said people shielding in Leicester City and North East Blackburn would no longer need to do so from 5 October.
Other areas have also been removed from the coronavirus watchlist after a marked improvement in transmission.
These include Swindon, Breckland, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Broadland, North Norfolk, South Norfolk, King's Lynn and West Norfolk.
It comes as Boris Johnson warned earlier in the week that the country needed to flatten the "second hump" to protect Christmas.
The prime minister said tough action was necessary to stop the virus "in its tracks" and to avoid a second lockdown.
He told The Sun: "I'm afraid infections do feed through to mortality and that is a fact we have to deal with.
"The crucial thing now is that I do not wish to go into some great lockdown again that stops business from functioning."
Mr Hancock also said on Friday that he wanted to avoid a second national lockdown, but warned he would take "action that is necessary".
Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, he said such a measure would be a "last line of defence" as he viewed local lockdowns as a "tool in our armoury".
Following the announcement, local leaders across the North West welcomed the decision from the government, but were also critical of its timing.
Councillor David Baines, Labour leader of St Helens Borough Council, said he was "disappointed" after a week of "rumour and speculation" and said it was not ideal to announce new restrictions on a Friday to come into effect the following week.
Meanwhile, Liverpool Council requested people begin to follow the restriction "immediately" and to have a "safe and careful weekend".
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson added: "We have warned for several weeks now that tougher restrictions would be on the way unless we started to see the number of infections coming under control.
"Any further measures, such as closing venues, would be measures that the city's economy simply could not afford and would be a devastating blow for individuals and livelihoods."