Wigan exits Greater Manchester's Covid-19 restrictions today

After almost four weeks, Wigan's enhanced Covid-19 restrictions come to an end today after a steady decline in new infections.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last week that the restrictions for Wigan borough would be removed on Wednesday following a steady decline in new Coronavirus cases.

The announcement paves the way for different households to socialise at home or in gardens again, as well as allowing businesses like bowling alleys, soft play centres and beauty salons to reopen.

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Following a steady drop in positive cases in the region, Greater Manchester’s council leaders and the Mayor Andy Burnham called on the government to remove the tougher restrictions that were introduced on July 31. The same restrictions will also be removed for Rossendale and some areas of Blackburn with Darwen.

Wigan is no longer part of the GM wide measuresWigan is no longer part of the GM wide measures
Wigan is no longer part of the GM wide measures

The change in rules mean that Wigan will realign with the rules imposed on the rest of the country, allowing residents to:

- Socialise in groups of up to two households indoors.

- Stay overnight at somebody else’s home.

- Book close contact services such as facials and brow or eyelash treatments.

- Visit bowling alleys, roller rinks, soft play centres and casinos.

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Hollywood Bowl is one of Wigan's businesses which is looking forward to reopening today. Safety measures have been introduced to make sure that anyone visiting is kept as safe as possible. A spokesperson for the bowling alley chain said: "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our customers and team members. .

"As well as carefully following Government guidelines we have put many extra measures in place, including only using alternate lanes and enhancing cleaning throughout the centre."

But the rules will still apply for the other nine boroughs that make up Greater Manchester, despite Wigan no longer having the lowest infection rate in the city-region - a title which now belongs to Stockport, which has a rate of 11.2 positive cases per 100,000 tests. Wigan's rate has risen slightly to 12.2. But there have been no Coronavirus-related deaths at Wigan’s NHS Trust for more than seven weeks.

In addition, a new process for initiating local lockdowns will be introduced, with lockdowns now taking place at a ward by ward level, as opposed to a borough by borough basis.

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The Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux, thanked residents for doing their bit to reduce the spread of the virus, saying: “I’d like to thank our residents for being responsible, patient and kind throughout the pandemic. I know it hasn’t been easy but by working together and following the rules we’ve managed to keep our loved ones safe.

“I know the tighter restrictions have frustrated many of our residents who felt them unfair, especially since our rates have been consistently low.

“I shared their frustration and have been working closely with the Mayor to ensure that those concerns were heard and acted upon.

“I’m pleased that the government has listened and reversed their decision to impose rules on the whole region rather than making decisions on a case by case basis.

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“However, it is important that we continue to act responsibly as the restrictions start to ease, by following social distancing guidelines, washing our hands, wearing a face covering where appropriate and wiping surfaces to avoid tougher restrictions in the future.”