The UK government has published official guidance this morning to outline the new restrictions put in place across areas of North West England to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The restrictions came into effect from midnight on 31 July 2020.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the sudden announcement yesterday evening that people in certain areas of Northern England – crucially including all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester – would no long be permitted to congregate privately with others outside their household or support bubble in homes and gardens due to a rise in COVID-19 cases across these regions.
The areas to which the new guidelines apply are:
- Greater Manchester (all 10 boroughs)
- Blackburn with Darwen
An official and in-depth guidance package has now been published via the gov.uk website.
The government has stated that anyone who lives in these parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire “should follow these rules when meeting people who you do not live with” and if you live in one of the affected areas, in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, you should not:
“Meet people you do not live with inside a private home or garden, except where you have formed a support bubble (or for other limited exemptions to be specified in law).
Visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of the affected areas.
Socialise with people you do not live with in other indoor public venues – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions. You may attend these venues with people you live with (or are in a support bubble with), but should avoid interaction with others. If you run such a business, you should take steps to ensure people do not interact with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance.”GOV.UK
It has also been confirmed that the government will pass new laws to enforce these changes, with the guidance stating that “the police will be able to take action against those that break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices”.
These fixed penalty notices will start at £100 (halving to £50 if paid in the first 14 days) and will double for subsequent offences.
Further guidance has been revealed via a question and answer style format and addresses a number of FAQs that have understandably been circulating among members of the public across the region following the announcement.
Clarity has been provided on a range of questions from ‘Can I still go to work in this area?’, ‘Can I still go to cafes, restaurants, the gym and other public places?’ and ‘Can people from outside of the lockdown area visit me at my house?’, to ‘Can I visit a care home?’, ‘Can funerals and weddings still take place in the lockdown areas?’ and ‘Can I travel in a car with someone I do not live with?’.
To read the guidance – North West of England: Local Restrictions – What You Can and Cannot Do – in full, visit the gov.uk here.
For further information and guidance amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, do refer to official sources via gov.uk/coronavirus.