Wigan is being removed from Greater Manchester's Covid-19 restrictions

Wigan borough will be released from the Greater Manchester wide Coronavirus restrictions from next week, the Government has said.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the restrictions for Wigan borough will be removed on Wednesday August 26, paving 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. The same restrictions will also be removed for Rossendale and some areas of Blackburn with Darwen. But the rules will still apply for other parts of Greater Manchester.

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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This will ensure as little disruption as possible is caused for families and businesses in areas surrounding those with spikes of infections, and that the measures are now considerably more tailored.

James Grundy MP says Wigan has been released from the Covid-19 measuresJames Grundy MP says Wigan has been released from the Covid-19 measures
James Grundy MP says Wigan has been released from the Covid-19 measures

Additional guidance will be introduced in Oldham, Blackburn and parts of Pendle to help curb a rising tide of COVID-19 cases, following careful consideration of rates across England yesterday.

Despite dedicated local efforts, evidence of rising rates in areas remain and in close collaboration with the local areas, it has been decided that from midnight on Saturday, local residents in these three areas should not socialise with anyone from outside their household.

It does not prevent people from shopping, going to work or attending child-care settings including schools which open from September 1. But it does mean any social activities indoors and outdoors can only be shared with people that you live with and in your immediate household.

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The decision on which wards will see increased measures will be made by local Councils, consulting with local MP’s, with the final decision being made by the Secretary of State for Health.

James Grundy MPJames Grundy MP
James Grundy MP

How will future local restrictions be imposed?

To ensure further targeting of the intervention, in future, the government is updating its Contain Framework to ensure that each week local authorities in an area of National Intervention bring a combined proposal on the geography which should be included that has been developed in conjunction with the local cross-party council leadership and MPs.

The JBC will provide the relevant data, including on the minimum local areas which must be included due to the prevalence of the virus.

Local leadership will then be expected to seek consensus between Councils and local MPs and recommend the appropriate geography which fits local travel patterns, work and social behaviours for restrictions to be active in. Areas within the local authority where COVID-19 is less prevalent are expected to be exempt from any restrictions.

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The Joint Biosecurity Centre Gold Meeting, chaired by the Secretary of State with the Chief Medical Officer, will then make the final decision based on the local recommendation, or recommendations if consensus cannot be reached. In the Northern area of intervention, we will expect Councils to engage with MPs immediately, and seek a consensus recommendation to the JBC Silver meeting chaired by the CMO on Wednesday, for a decision at the JBC Gold meeting on Thursday.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “To prevent a second peak and keep Covid-19 under control, we need robust, targeted intervention where we see a spike in cases. The only way we can keep on top of this deadly virus is through decisive action led by the people who know their areas best, wherever possible through consensus with a local area.

“Working with local leaders we agreed further action Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn. It is vital that everyone in these areas follow the advice of their councils, and abide by their local rules carefully.

“Our approach is to make the action we take as targeted as possible, with the maximum possible local consensus. To do that we are introducing a new process to increase engagement between local leaders, both councils and MPs, with the aim of taking as targeted action as possible. This will allow local councils to focus resources onto the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down, and gives local people a stronger voice at the table."

James Grundy MP:

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Leigh's Conservative MP James Grundy said earlier today: “I’d like to thank the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, for the changes he has announced today, as well as the support shown to me by my constituents, who have supported my calls for these changes to be made.

“The Secretary of State and his Department have worked constructively with myself and my Conservative colleagues across Greater Manchester over the last three weeks and has implemented all of the measures that we asked for in our initial joint letter to him at the beginning of the Greater Manchester wide lockdown.

“We were condemned by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, for the stance my Conservative colleagues and I took, but I now feel that we have been totally vindicated.

“Despite the welcome decision that was made today, I would like to ask that local residents remain vigilant and abide by all the measures that remain in force nationally.”

Mayor's Office issues statement:

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority said:

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“Greater Manchester’s Leaders main objective this week was to avoid a local lockdown in Oldham so we are glad we have been able to agree this with the Government. Our second objective was to ensure areas with consistently low infection rates were taken out of the restrictions so the decision on Wigan’s restrictions being lifted is a welcome one.

“We have all been concerned about the situation in Oldham and this is why we have sought to work in partnership both with the local council and the Government to agree the most suitable and effective measures, as set out by Oldham Council. Increased measures to restrict the mixing of households are a much more sensible approach than local lockdown. We are pleased that the Health Secretary has listened to what Leaders said in their letter to him yesterday.

“It is also right that Government has lifted the restrictions for people living in Wigan given the consistently low infection rate. However it was also right that Wigan was included in the restrictions when they began as this has helped to keep rates low.

“The Government have also announced changes to the way local measures will be developed. Greater Manchester Leaders have always done their best to seek consensus and we welcome the input of local elected representatives as we have done around the changes in Oldham and Wigan. We are also already ensuring measures like increased testing is happening at a hyper-local level. However we believe that working at a borough level is the most effective way to tackle the virus as a patchwork approach to restrictions and lockdowns will be confusing to the public and impossible to enforce.

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“The situation remains challenging and everyone in Greater Manchester must continue to observe social distancing, handwashing as well as wearing a face covering in indoor spaces. We will continue to support Oldham in the coming weeks, the strategy is showing signs of progress and we believe cases will continue to decrease in the borough and across Greater Manchester if we all follow the guidelines and collectively protect the health of everyone in Greater Manchester.”