Lancashire lockdown explained: All your questions answered as new restrictions come into force
Lancashire has been placed under stricter lockdown measures today, but the new rules raise many questions for families and businesses.
To help clarify what has changed and how it might affect your family, work and personal life, we have sought guidance from the Government to answer some of your most pressing questions.
The lockdown measures are to be discussed and debated in Parliament on Monday (September 21) before they come into force in Lancashire on Tuesday.
But this is what we know so far about some of the most important changes to our everyday life.
What are the rules?
- Households banned from mixing in homes and gardens
- Pubs, bars and restaurants limited to table service only
- 10pm curfew for leisure and entertainment venues, including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas
Where do the restrictions apply?
Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn, Burnley, West Lancashire, Wyre, Fylde, Lancaster and the Ribble Valley.
But the new restrictions do not apply to Blackpool.
When do the new restrictions take effect?
The new measures will come into force from midnight on Tuesday, September 22.
What are the rules in regards to transport?
New guidance has also been introduced regarding public transport, which residents are strongly urged to comply with.
People are urged only to use public transport for essential journeys, such as travelling to school, work or for a health appointment. The Government is urging people to try and shop locally to avoid the need to use buses and trains.
Can I still go on holiday?
People who live in the affected areas can still go on holiday, but this must only be with people who live in their own household, or are in their support bubble.
Households are urged not to mix with other households whilst vacationing abroad or in the UK and must self-isolate for 14 days when returning from countries on the UK Government's quarantine list. You can check the Government's up-to-date list of countries that are subject to travel conditions here.
Will non-essential shops close?
Closure of non-essential shops has not been announced as part of the stricter measures. But a 10pm curfew will come into force for leisure and entertainment venues, which includes pubs, clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas.
Will schools stay open?
Schools, colleges and universities will not close under the new restrictions.
The Government does advise pupils in Year 7 and above, as well as staff, should wear face coverings when moving around in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Do I still have to go into work?
There are no restrictions governing travel for work purposes between the affected areas. People who live both inside and outside of these areas can continue their commutes, but workplaces should implement Covid-secure guidance.
Can I meet my family and friends in a pub?
Rules state that people must not socialise with other people outside of their own household, or support bubble, in all public venues.
This applies to inside and outside of the affected areas, and includes pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions and parks.
Can I meet my family and friends in an outdoor space?
There is no explicit ban on meeting family and friends in outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches.
But people are "strongly urged" not to mix with anyone outside of their household when visiting indoor venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes.
The official advice is to limit socialising with those outside of your household, or support bubble, even in public, and any social gathering in any setting is limited to 6 people ("the rule of 6").
The "rule of 6" was introduced nationwide on Monday (September 14) and limits the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors to six. This rule is in place across the country and will sit alongside additional restrictions in local areas.
But in Preston and Blackburn with Darwen, the "rule of 6" does not apply indoors, meaning households are not permitted to have ANY visitors to their homes or private gardens.
Do those classed as “extremely high risk” or vulnerable need to go back to shielding?
The government has not advised that people who are considered highly vulnerable to coronavirus should go back to shielding.
The official advice only states that people should not meet with anyone outside of their household or support bubble.
But individuals who are shielding in parts of North East Blackburn (8 wards are under local restrictions) will no longer need to from October 5, bringing these wards into line with the rest of Blackburn with Darwen where shielding is already due to pause from September 21.
What is the situation with childcare?
Friends or family who do not live in your household should not visit your home to help with childcare, unless they are part of your support bubble.
Only people who you live with, people in your support bubble, or registered childcare provider, including nannies, should assist with childcare.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
Parents can also continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before- or after-school clubs, or other out-of-school settings, for children.
Can grass-roots sports events, training sessions and gym classes still go ahead?
Though not legally binding, the new measures "strongly urge" people in Lancashire to avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
Team sports that are formally organised by a sports club, or similar organisation, might be permitted without spectators, but advice should be sought from the local authority.
Individual sports can be played, but should follow government guidance on outdoor sport and recreation. Going to the gym, gym classes and swimming pools is also still allowed providing these venues have Covid-secure guidelines in place.
It is advised that all other sports activities should not take place with people who you do not live with, at both indoor and outdoor public venues.
How long are these restrictions likely to last?
Local lockdowns are under constant weekly reviews by the national Government, with health officials monitoring the rate of infections in each area.
There is no set level of infection that triggers a local lockdown, but areas with more than 40 cases per 100,000 people are unlikely to see extra restrictions lifted.
Could this end up in another full lockdown?
Local lockdown restrictions have been introduced in Lancashire and other parts of the UK to reduce infection rate in areas where cases have spiked.
The intention is to bring infection rates down in affected areas, reducing the need to impose a second nationwide lockdown.
But today (Friday, September 18), health secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out a second national lockdown, but indicated the Government’s preference for “local action”.
He said that a temporary second national lockdown is an option if cases continue to proliferate, but national measures were only the “last line of defence” against coronavirus.
He added: “We want to avoid a national lockdown but we’re prepared to do it, if we need to.”
He referred to this possible measure as a "circuit breaker" - which would see extra restrictions imposed nationwide to slow the spread of Covid-19 as the winter months approach.
You can read more about the Government's "circuit breaker" proposal and what it could mean for the country here.