Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Local lockdown restrictions eased in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, and West Yorkshire
28 August 2020, 17:06
Coronavirus restrictions will be eased from next Wednesday in parts of Lancashire, Greater Manchester, and West Yorkshire where incidence rates have decreased, it has been announced.
Restrictions on two households mixing introduced last month will be lifted in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley and Hyndburn, said the Department of Health and Social Care.
Parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees will also fall into line with the rest of England on Wednesday September 2.
Elsewhere in Lancashire, residents in Preston and parts of Pendle will still be banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens.
Officials in the county revealed the latest weekly guidance ahead of an expected official announcement on Friday from the Department of Health and Social Care.
A Government statement said: "In Pendle and Blackburn residents will continue to be advised to avoid mixing with anyone from another household anywhere.
"Some businesses and organisations remain closed in Blackburn and Darwen.
"Pendle had the highest number of cases per 100,000 anywhere in England during the week ending August 20, reaching 67.8.
"The ban on two households mixing indoors will continue in Preston.
"On top of the indoor gatherings restrictions, some leisure sector businesses will continue to remain closed.
"The next review of these measures will take place by September 11."
It added: "In Kirklees, the ban on indoor household gatherings will continue in Dewsbury and Batley.
"The ban will also continue in parts of Calderdale."
Lancashire's director of public health Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: "People living in Burnley and Hyndburn will be pleased that Government has lifted the additional restrictions in their areas, but this should not lead to complacency.
"In both Burnley and Hyndburn infection rates are significantly above the national average with an increasing rate in Hyndburn."
People living in specific wards in Pendle and in the northern part of Blackburn with Darwen - where infection rates are the highest in the country - will still not be able to socialise with anyone outside their household and should only use public transport if essential.
Gary Hall, deputy chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum which is leading the county's response to the coronavirus pandemic, said: "If we continue on this path I am hopeful that all parts of Lancashire will have the remaining restrictions lifted soon, but this depends on people following the rules wherever they live in the county."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he has "every faith" in people across the country in following local rules.
"We brought in measures to protect people in these parts of northern England, and I want to thank residents who have worked so hard to get on top of this virus," he said.
"We're seeing the positive results of our local approach and are able to bring in increasingly targeted measures.
"It is vital we can maintain this good progress. I have every faith people across the county, especially in areas where we are seeing higher numbers of cases, will continue to play their part by following local rules, and self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms."
Meanwhile, Trafford in Greater Manchester is set to join Hyndburn and Burnley in falling in line with the majority of England - despite the local council's recommendation to Government that restrictions should stay following advice from its own director of public health.
Councillor Andrew Western, Labour leader of Trafford Council, said: "It is apparent that for all of their claims of working in collaboration with local authorities, the Government has decided to overrule the council and lift restrictions in Trafford.
"This action by Government makes a mockery of the claims of locally-led decision-making and once again shows that local government is being ignored in spite of being on the front line of this crisis."
Council leaders in Oldham, Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside and Salford also told Health Secretary Matt Hancock that a ban on mixing between different households should remain.
Political leaders in Stockport and Bolton, together with Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees local authorities in West Yorkshire, appealed for those restrictions to go.
Last week, Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to Covid-19 restrictions in which the views of MPs would also be sought to gain "the maximum possible local consensus".
He added this would allow local councils to focus resources on the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down.
However the Labour local council leaders in West Yorkshire criticised that approach as "confusing" and said the intervention of Tory backbench MPs "undermines council leadership".