As the covid-19 incidence rate continues to rise across the country, a suite of local and national action is required to break the trains of transmission and enable people to maintain a more normal way of life.
The Government will act swiftly and decisively to limit further spread, reduce disruption and contain local outbreaks. The local action committee command structure reviewed the latest evidence during two urgently convened meetings yesterday, in which we worked with local leaders and the scientific community to assess the data and consider whether further evidence was required.
Despite local interventions being put into place in the north-west of England since 5 August, the latest data in the seven day period 19-25 September, shows a continuing increase in incidence rates per 100,000 population and also the percentage of positive test results, especially within the Merseyside region. The impact of this has resulted in increased hospital admissions and ICU occupancy in the Merseyside area.
As a result, from 00:01 on Saturday 3 October we are implementing stricter restrictions in regulations to apply across the Merseyside region, which consists of Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral and for these purposes also Hatton and Warrington. The new restriction will prohibit inter-household mixing in any indoors venue, unless there is an exemption in place. This restriction includes hospitality, leisure, retail and entertainment venues (including bars, pubs and restaurants).
We reviewed the position in the north-east. In addition to the north-east measures we announced last week, from 00:01 on Saturday 3 October we are also implementing further regulations in the form of a regional approach to Hartlepool and Middlesbrough to replicate the restrictions in place since 30 September in Durham County, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. These regulations will prohibit inter-household mixing in any indoors venue, unless there is an exemption in place. This includes hospitality, leisure, retail and entertainment venues (including bars, pubs and restaurants).
We reviewed the level of current interventions in Bolton, and from 00:01 on Saturday 3 October, we will be aligning these with measures in place across the rest of Greater Manchester.
We are also recommending that Sheffield is escalated as an area of enhanced support and that Rotherham, Luton, Wakefield, Barrow-in-Furness, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester are added to the watchlist as areas of concern.
The recommendation is also that Spelthorne and Hertsmere are removed from the watchlist.
We appreciate that this will be difficult news for the people living in these areas, profoundly affecting their daily lives. These decisions are not taken lightly, and such measures will be kept under review and in place no longer than they are necessary.
There are exemptions to these measures so people can still meet with those in their support bubble. There are other limited exemptions such as for work purposes or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person. Through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Protected Areas and Linked Childcare Households) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, people may create an exclusive childcare bubble for the purposes of informal childcare for children under 14, helping to ease pressure on those living under local restrictions so they can get to work.
The guidance on gov.uk covering these areas will also be amended to fully reflect these changes.