WARRINGTON will go into a Tier 3 lockdown from midnight tonight, the Government confirmed this afternoon – and Nottingham is still on the brink of joining too.
Around 200,000 people in the area will move to the Very High top level of restrictions, meaning pubs which don't serve alcohol, adult gaming centres, betting shops, casinos and kids soft play areas will have to shut again.
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The case rate in England stood at 180.6 people per 100,000 from 12 October to 18 October – up from 100 last week.
In Warrington case rates are at 361 people per 100,000 among all age groups – and there's been a 20 per cent rise in cases in the over 60s in the last seven days.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said today: "Infection rates are rising in Warrington, and we have agreed with local leaders that it’s time to take action.
"We have agreed a support package designed to help businesses while boosting efforts to control the virus locally, and will not hesitate to take similar action in any area of the country if infection rates continue to rise.
"Please remember – now is the time for us all to work together to get this virus under control."
People are already banned from meeting up with people indoors that they don't live with under Tier 2.
But now they will be unable to socialise with anyone not part of their household in most outside settings too – such as outdoors at pubs or at ticketed events.
People should try to avoid travelling outside the area unless it's for work, or it's essential.
And residents should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and others should avoid staying overnight in the very high alert area.
Greater Manchester, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Liverpool are all in Tier 3 too – meaning the toughest rules apply to them to try and stop the spread of the virus.
The government will be providing a financial support package of £1.68m to Warrington, as well as £4.2m in business support funding.
WARRINGTON TIER 3: WHAT YOU CAN DO
Here's what you can't do in Warrington under Tier 3 restrictions…
- You cannot socialise with anybody you don’t live with, unless you have formed a household or childcare support bubble, in any indoor setting or venue – including homes or restaurants.
- You cannot socialise with anybody you don’t live with, unless you have formed a household or childcare support bubble, in any private garden, or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
- You cannot socialise in a group of more than six in an outdoor public space, like parks.
- Pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals as a restaurant, like a main lunchtime or evening meal, must also close.
- You can't go to betting offices, soft play centres or casinos.
- You should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK
- You can still go to leisure centres, gyms, fitness centres, beauticians, hairdressers and trampoline centres which are Covid secure.
- You can still make essential journeys but should avoid travelling outside Warrington wherever possible.
- Children can still go to school
Meanwhile, Nottingham is still in talks with the Government about whether to enter Tier 3 too.
Ministers were due to hold final talks with the leaders of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe over Tier 3 at 3pm today – but it's unclear if an announcement will be made.
Despite a fall in the number of cases in Nottingham, major hospitals were forced to postpone surgeries last night and local leaders said they were in discussions with the Government over fresh restrictions.
The infection rate in Nottingham has plummeted by a third in one week, in a hopeful sign things could be improving.
Earlier today Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock both refused to deny reports that a possible Tier 4 could be brought in if the current rules don't get cases down enough.
The Health Sec and PM both insisted that they were using the three tiered system for now.
When asked about the possibility of a Tier 4 today the PM said: "We are working at the moment through the Tier 3 strategy."
Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast today of the reports of a Tier 4: "We've always said all along that we take nothing off the table.
"Having said that, we have seen the rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit.
"The problem is it's still going up, and while it's still going up we've got to act to get it under control.
"We rule nothing out but at the moment the three-tier system is what we're working to and it's effective in slowing the growth of this virus but it hasn't brought this curve to a halt."
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