Darren Adam 1am - 4am
Preston lockdown: Council tells youths 'don't kill Granny' as infections spike
8 August 2020, 08:16
Local leaders in Preston have adopted the slogan "don't kill Granny" in a bid to urge young people to treat the pandemic more seriously.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on Friday that households in the Lancashire city will be banned from mixing indoors or in gardens from midnight.
The same measures were brought in for residents in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, following stricter rules in Leicester.
Officials pinned blame for the "significant" rise in Covid-19 cases on households mixing in pubs and houses.
Adrian Phillips, chief executive of Preston City Council, said it was "alarming to see that the under-30s are contracting it at a significant rate".
"I know our director of public health has said 'Don't kill Granny' to young people to try and focus the message,'" he said.
Speaking at a media briefing, director of Public Health for Lancashire Sakthi Karunanithi said almost half of the cases reported were among people aged 30 and younger.
Dr Karunanithi said the “two main reasons” for the rise in infections were people meeting others in their houses and households coming together in venues such as pubs.
Social bubbles are exempt from the new Preston restrictions, and residents can meet in groups of up to six - or more than six if exclusively from two households - in outdoor areas such as parks and beer gardens.
Households can also visit indoor hospitality venues, so long as they do not mix with others.
The curbs will remain in place for those areas for at least another week, “as the data does not yet show a decrease in the transmission of this terrible virus”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Any changes to the measures will be announced by 14 August following a review next week, he added.
The DHSC said Preston would be added to a watch list of high-risk local authorities as an “area of intervention” at the request of the local authority.
There were 61 new cases in Preston in the seven days to August 4, which is the equivalent of 42.6 cases per 100,000 people - up from 21.7 per 100,000 in the previous seven days.
READ MORE: Coronavirus R rate across UK rises towards 1
Dr Karunanithi said it was “extremely important that we act now” following a significant increase in positive cases.
“I also want to be clear that this is affecting people from both south Asian and white ethnic backgrounds, particularly those living in poor socio-economic conditions in our city,” he said.
“I want to pay extra attention to indoor spaces, particularly pubs, where high numbers of people are mixing between households.
”That's a worrying pattern that we really must avoid.“
In other local lockdown areas, Blackburn with Darwen still has the highest infection rate, but it has decreased from 88.8 cases per 100,000 people to 82.2, with 123 new cases in the past week.
The Greater Manchester borough of Oldham is in second place, where the seven-day rate has jumped from 55.7 to 67.9, with 161 new cases, while Pendle in Lancashire is third, where the rate has risen from 46.7 to 58.6, with 54 new cases.
The rate in Leicester continues to fall, down from 62.4 to 52.2, with 185 new cases.
Pools, indoor gyms and other leisure facilities will continue to remain closed in Leicester, Bradford and Blackburn.
Shielding will also continue for individuals in Blackburn with Darwen, and Leicester city.
But Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said the failure to set up a comprehensive test and trace programme was leaving local councils “blindfolded” while trying to stop the spread of the virus.
She added: “The Government must act now to reassure people in the Preston area that they are managing this serious outbreak.
“This is difficult when the Prime Minister has yet again brought in a regional lockdown without a press conference or any parliamentary scrutiny.”
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that new lockdown measures must be “crystal clear” on what people can and cannot do.
Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said: “We need to see improved support for businesses and people where staff absence is due to self-isolating and ensure any additional support is made easily accessible to local firms.”