COVID-19 restrictions will stay in force in Bolton and Trafford – after another U-turn by the government which was due to lift local lockdowns but faced demands from councils to keep them in place.
Both local councils cited increases in coronavirus infections, with the controlling Labour group on Trafford Council asking for restrictions to remain in place for another week or two “in the interests of public safety”.
Bolton Council said “a sudden and unforeseeable rise” in COVID-19 cases needed to be taken “seriously”.
Announcing that the existing lockdowns would continue, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said infection rates had increased by “more than three times in Bolton in under a week, and double in Trafford since the last review”.
It means residents in Bolton and Trafford will still not be allowed to socialise with other households in their own homes, gardens, pubs or restaurants for the foreseeable future.
Social gatherings however can resume for the first time in weeks from today in Stockport, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, as planned.
The latest Public Health England data for Bolton shows the weekly incidence rate is now at 66.6 per 100,000. This compares with 18.9 between 17 and 23 August.
Similarly, in Trafford the rate has risen to 36.8 from 17.8.
Mr Hancock said: “Following a significant change in the level of infection rates over the last few days, a decision has been taken that Bolton and Trafford will now remain under existing restrictions.
“This decision has been made in collaboration with local leaders after reviewing the latest data.”
He added: “We can bring the rates down if we continue to work together and I urge everyone to continue to play their part by following the rules – get tested if you have symptoms, self-isolate and practice social distancing.”
Local political leaders in Bolton had argued for the removal of the restrictions due to a fall in cases – but changed their minds after a jump in cases.
Analysis showed that new cases were not limited to a single area, community, or place of work, said the town’s council.
Infections between different households appeared to be the main cause of the spike, with people aged 18-49 representing the overwhelming majority of new cases, it added.
Council leaders in Trafford had recommended that restrictions be maintained to wait for more evidence of a sustained downward trend in positive cases but were overruled by the government.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham had earlier said the easing of restrictions in the areas was “completely illogical”, and urged people to “continue to follow the guidance” not to have social gatherings in their home.
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