Tighter coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in the north of England and Northern Ireland.
Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough are imposing new local measures from Saturday 3 October. The area covered by Derry City and Strabane council is also introducing new restrictions on 5 October.
What new measures are being introduced?
In the Liverpool region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, people must not meet anyone outside their household, or support bubble, in any indoor setting – including private homes and gardens. People who break these rules can be fined.
Meeting people from outside your household in restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes will also be banned.
People are also being advised not to meet with anyone outside their household or bubble in outdoor public spaces, such as parks or beer gardens.
In Derry City and Strabane, pubs, bars and restaurants will only be able to open for takeaway, delivery and outdoor eating and drinking.
People will also not be allowed to mix indoors in private homes with other households.
Which other areas have restrictions?
The nature and extent of current restrictions vary around the UK, and they affect at least a quarter of the population.
- In County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland, households are banned from mixing socially with each other anywhere indoors (although support bubbles are exempt)
- People cannot mix in homes or gardens with anyone outside their household in Leeds, Wigan, Stockport or Blackpool
- There are new rules and guidance for people in Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire – with specific regulations for Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle.
- Residents in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wolverhampton, Oadby and Wigston are banned from socialising with other people outside of their own household or support bubble in private homes and gardens
- Households in Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell are not allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with in their home or garden, unless they’re in their support bubble
- Those in parts of Greater Manchester – including Salford, Bury, the City of Manchester and Oldham, are advised not to mix with those from outside their household or support bubble
- In Bolton, hospitality venues will previously only able to serve takeaways. But these restrictions will be eased on Saturday, to bring the area in line with Greater Manchester.
- In Leicester, people cannot host anyone they do not live with in their home or garden, unless they’re in their support bubble
- Four council areas in north Wales – Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham – now face restrictions
- Restrictions are now in force in Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan
- Llanelli, Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent,Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly were already in local lockdowns
- People should not enter or leave those areas without a reasonable excuse like going to work, unless you can do so from home, or school
- Pubs and restaurants must close by 22:20, but stop serving alcohol at 22:00
- People cannot meet other households indoors, including members of extended households. However, people living alone in areas under local restrictions can now meet one other household indoors,
- People living in Glasgow city, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire are subject to small additional restrictions relating to care home and hospital visits, as well as contact tracing
How many people are under extra restrictions?
In total, at least 17 million people are facing additional restrictions in addition to their national rules across the UK – a quarter of the population (25.4%).
- 12.7m people in England, or 23% of the population
- 2.4m people in Wales (76%)
- 1.8m people in Scotland (32%)
- 151,000 people in Northern Ireland (8%)
The latest changes mean 66% of northern England faces restrictions, along with 22% of the Midlands.
When are new restrictions introduced in an area?
There is no set level of infection that triggers this in a particular place, but if there are more than 40 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, it is likely that extra restrictions will be considered.
The number of infections is not the only factor considered.
For example, cases in Northampton jumped to 125 per 100,000 in August. But because the rise was almost entirely down to workers at a local factory no wider restrictions were introduced.
What are ‘areas of concern’?
Since June, Public Health England has been publishing a weekly Covid-19 surveillance list.
This lists those local authority areas where incidence of the disease is rising, sorting them into three categories:
- Areas of intervention – where restrictions or lockdowns are in place
- Areas of enhanced support – where the local council is receiving help from the government (eg extra testing)
- Areas of concern – where the situation is being monitored closely, but no restrictions have been put in place
On 25 September, all 33 London boroughs were listed as areas of concern.
How are these rules enforced?
Local authorities in England have powers to:
- Close specific premises (such as shops, cafes and gyms)
- Shut outdoor spaces (such as parks, playgrounds and beaches)
- Cancel events (such as concerts, weddings and sporting events)
Central government can:
- Close sectors or types of premises in local areas
- Introduce localised stay at home orders
- Reduce the maximum size of gatherings
- Restrict the use of transport
- Stop people leaving a certain area
Can police enforce the rules?
Police have powers to make sure people stick to the restrictions. For example, if they believe that somebody is staying away overnight, they can tell them to return home.
They can also fine people for breaking the rules, and may issue a “prohibition notice” directing somebody not to do something.
But if a resident from a locked-down area wants to go to a bar in another part of the city, for example, there is nothing legally to stop them.