'We're guinea pigs for the South': How Preston is reacting to life under Tier 3 restrictions

“I think, looking at it all, that we can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on March 19, ahead of unprecedented peacetime curbs on everyday life. “I am absolutely confident that we can send coronavirus packing.”

By Gazette Reporter
Sunday, 18th October 2020, 2:31 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th October 2020, 3:28 pm

But on Friday, more than 30 weeks later, following what he called “tough discussions, difficult decisions”, Boris again shoved Lancashire into an abyss of measures which he admitted will “damage local businesses, curtail individual freedom, and impose significant strains on people’s mental health”.

As the county picks itself up, dusts itself down, and steadies itself once more, shoppers voiced their own opinions.

Jo Blagden, 28, who lives in Plungington, said Northerners are being used as “guinea pigs” by the Government.

The Covid-19 testing billboard in Blackpool Road, Preston, in September (Picture: Neil Cross for the Lancashire Post)

She said: “I think up here we are experiments for the south, when they should really be looking in their own backyards.

“It is always good to try because this virus is having such an effect on the country but, by looking at Liverpool, I think all it will do is encourage people to have illegal house parties and raves.

“In the North, I don’t think anyone will be telling on their neighbours for breaking any rules because we are much stronger community.”

Nikki Marr, 48, a civil servant from Penwortham, said she saw the new restrictions coming, with around 1.5 million people in Lancashire now living under the most severe coronavirus controls, with pubs and bars required to close unless they can serve meals and meeting friends and family living elsewhere effectively outlawed.

Lisa Oldroyd, 32, a PhD student from Penwortham, said: "I don't think we will see any good come out of the lockdown." (Picture: James Holt for the Lancashire Post)

But she said: “I doubt many people will take any notice of it now up North because the rules have kept changing.

“I see the logic behind closing businesses like pubs, but from what I have heard and witnessed, it doesn’t seem to be those industries that are the problem.

"A lot of people are still going into other households and mixing.”

Sarah Blackston, 24, lives in Simonstone and was shopping in Preston with her partner Richard today.

Oliver Tucker, 22, from Preston, said: "I am just trying to get through it and carry on as best I can, like everyone else." (Picture: James Holt for the Lancashire Post)

She said: “I do think the elderly and vulnerable have to be considered and how this lockdown will impact them.

“I don’t think only closing certain businesses will make a difference because people will still go out and continue to mix.”

Home Bargains worker Oliver Tucker, 22, from Preston, said: “I think if everyone had the same plan seen in every shop, every town, and every city, we would not have been in this situation now. I am just trying to get through it and carry on as best I can, like everyone else.”

Lisa Oldroyd, a 32-year-old PhD student from Penwortham, said: “I don’t think we will see any good come out of the lockdown and I think our decision to keep gyms and restaurants open is because of the money the county council will have got.”

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, the Government’s chief scientific adviser said local areas could introduce “extra measures” on top of the tier three restrictions because the alert level’s “baseline” is not enough alone to reduce infection rates.

Sir Patrick Vallance said “local knowledge and local insight” would help inform further measures to drive the R number below one.

His comments echoed those of England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who last week said that the flexibility within the new three-tier system of alert levels for England could see “additional” measures guided by local leaders.

Sir Patrick said: “It’s crucial that where the R is above one and the numbers are high, to get the R below one for all the reasons that have been outlined, including, of course, the hospitalisations which are increasing.

"So it’s crucial that’s done and there are a number of ways that it can be done.”

The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK still remains above one.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.