Greater Manchester and Lancs under travel and socialising guidance due to COVID level

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock

The Government has widened its advice to re-think travel in areas of high COVID infection to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, excluding Blackpool.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivered a statement to the House of Commons today (June 8) explaining that the Government is putting in place similar support to that unveiled in Bolton, where COVID-19 infection rates were among the highest in the country.

He has advised people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire to minimise travel and meet outside.

Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham has called on everyone aged over 50 to get their second vaccine jab. He tweeted: “Just had mine today, dead easy and all down to the brilliant team at the Etihad MVC!”

The region will be given extra vaccinations, military support and a school mask-wearing rule to help reduce rising COVID rates.

In some areas, infections have been doubling week-on-week, followed by a rise in hospitalisations.

The measures are similar to those currently in place in Bolton and Blackburn which were issued last month.

Mr Hancock said: “I can tell the House that today, working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support based on what’s working in Bolton, to help Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackle the rise in the Delta variant that we’re seeing there.

“This includes rapid response teams, putting in extra testing, military support and supervised in school testing. I want to encourage everyone in Manchester and Lancashire to get the tests on offer.

“We know that this approach can work, we’ve seen it work in South London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.

“This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and in Lancashire, and, of course, it’s vital that people in these areas – as everywhere else – come forward and get the jab as soon as they’re eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together.”

The country is due to emerge from full lockdown rules on June 21, subject to various criteria being met, including controlling infection rates and hospitalisations.

Today’s announcement raised fears that the region could be put back into some form of tiering restrictions, but Nadhim Zahawi, the Vaccines Minister, said in response to Dewsbury Conservative MP Mark Eastwood: “I would reassure him that we want the whole country to come out of this lockdown together.”

The restrictions apply to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, comprising Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre.

Sacha Lord, Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “I welcome the Government’s decisive action today to help drive down cases in Greater Manchester and would like to thank all partners involved in increasing the roll out of vaccines across all boroughs.

“We remain hopeful that with these measures in place, step 4 of the roadmap on 21 June will go ahead, however, we must not allow a disregard for the guidance now to affect those chances.

“We must all continue to work as one to help prevent a surge of infections delaying our exit from this crisis, from those taking the time to discuss vaccine concerns with friends and family, to the thousands of businesses who have worked hard to implement measures to aid the reduction in transmission.”

He added: “I’d like to remind the public that hospitality operators across Greater Manchester have created safe, secure environments, however, I am aware some social plans may change as a result of today’s announcement.

“Given the stark financial ledge many venues are balancing on, it remains imperative that hotels and restaurants are given notice of any cancellations ahead of time. I continue to urge the public to treat our hospitality sector with respect and offer them the best chance of recovery post-COVID.”

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