Extra lockdown restrictions imposed in Preston as city made 'area of intervention'
Preston is to be included in the additional Covid-19 restrictions enforced in east Lancashire, Greater Manchester and west Yorkshire, it has been confirmed.
From midnight tonight (Friday), Preston residents will not be allowed to have people from outside their household visit their homes and gardens; they cannot visit the homes or gardens of other people even if they live in an unaffected area; and they cannot mix with other households in indoor venues like pubs or cafes.
Social bubbles are exempt from these restrictions. 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 don't mix with others.
It comes after a spike in cases of coronavirus in Preston.
LCC public health director Sakthi Karunanithi had asked the public last Friday (July 31) to start following extra precautions, such as avoiding going into other people's homes and wearing face coverings in all public spaces - but these were not legally enforceable, unlike the measures introduced in east Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
The newly announced restrictions are now mandatory - meaning those who do not comply could face police action such as a fixed penalty fine.
Lancashire Resilience Forum, the team orgainsing the response to Covid-19, said 'a significant rise in cases in the under 30 age group' was a cause of concern.
Adrian Phillips, Chief Executive at Preston City Council, said: “The number of cases in Preston have increased rapidly in recent days leading to Government categorising the city as an area of intervention. It is also alarming to see that the under 30s are contracting it at a significant rate.
“It is clear that coronavirus is still here and we all need to work together to keep ourselves, our friends, families and communities safe from this virus.
“While some wards have recorded a higher level of cases, this remains a city wide issue and it’s essential that we all do our part to fight the virus.
“We’re urging everyone to be diligent and follow the restrictions, in order to protect all of our residents, communities and businesses.”
Angie Ridgwell, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council and Chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum which is leading the response to coronavirus in the county, added: "We understand that these restrictions are going to be disruptive to many people but it is a necessary step to protect the health of everyone in Preston and beyond.
"It is vitally important that everyone plays their part by adhering to these new restrictions. I want to be very clear – if we do not see a reduction in infections it is highly likely that more stringent measures will be introduced."
The evidence is clear, we all need to take extra precautions to protect our loved ones. Coronavirus affects all of communities and we all need to do our part to prevent the spread from continuing rise. 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. We need to avoid mixing between households and to maintain 2m social distancing particularly in pubs and clubs”
Central government has produced guidance on what residents can and cannot do at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/north-west-of-england-local-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-doAlso today, the county council has advertised for more people to work as 'Community Swabbers' at its Covid test sites.
County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We need to recruit around 150 people as quickly as possible so that we can continue to offer testing around the county.
"If we don't have enough people to do this, some sites may have to close so it's vital that as many people as possible come forward.
"These are temporary, but paid positions. You'll be given all the training you need as well as PPE to ensure you are safe while carrying out this vital frontline work.
"We're looking for people who have the skills to do this work in a community test site. If you're interested, visit our website to find out more."