Chorley and South Ribble 'recommended' for Tier 2 Covid rules as part of suggestion Lancashire should be split up by district

Lancashire is to recommend to the government that Chorley and South Ribble are placed into Tier 2 Covid restrictions when the national lockdown ends on 2nd December.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 5:16 pm

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that the decision was taken without a formal vote at a meeting of Lancashire district and county leaders this morning, after a discussion between politicians and local public health bosses. The standalone authorities in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool were not involved in the discussion although the later has since backed the move.

Preston and the five districts in the east are to be put forward for the tougher Tier 3, with all other boroughs seen as being fit for Tier 2.

The government is set to announce tomorrow which parts of England will go into which of the newly-revised tiers, with a final decision expected to be reached tonight at a high-level meeting of a group known as “Covid O”.

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What tier will Chorley and South Ribble end up in when the national lockdown ends next week?

Unlike last month, when the tiering system was first introduced, there will be no direct negotiations between the government and local leaders about the restrictions that will apply in each area.

However, it is understood that Lancashire will offer its own suggestion nevertheless, based on an assessment of current infection rates.

Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Pendle all had Covid case rates above the England average in the week to 21st November.

Lancashire as a whole was placed into Tier 3 on 17th October after a week of protracted discussions between council leaders and government officials.

However, it is unknown as yet whether the government will impose the new tiers at a district level or across the entire county.

Residents in any areas emerging into Tier 3 would continue to be unable to mix between households - except for support bubbles - in all indoor and most outdoor settings. The rule of six would apply in parks and at beaches, a looser restriction than under the current national lockdown.

Pubs and restaurants would remain closed and be able to offer a takeaway service only, but non-essential retail would reopen.

Any districts entering Tier 2 would also be barred from household mixing in all indoor settings, although gathering in private gardens and public open spaces would be permitted, up to a maximum of six people.

Restaurants and cafes could reopen, along with pubs serving a substantial meal.

There have been mixed signals from the government about whether a district-by-district approach will be taken to the imposition of the new tiers.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that "granular detail" may be a consideration, but the Prime Minister said in the Commons earlier this week that the tiers would have to be "sensible and large enough".

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver said that the final decision “will, of course, be made by the government". However, he added that there was clear rationale behind Lancashire’s own proposal.

"Lancashire leaders recognise the fine balance between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods, but it is clear from the epidemiology that the western half of the county is now in a much better position following the current restrictions.

“This does not mean that people should be complacent because the fewer restrictions in Tier 2 present a real danger of the infection rates rising again if people do not follow the basic guidance to keep themselves, their family and their communities safe," County Cllr Driver said.