STRICT new local lockdown restrictions are to be imposed on Warrington in a bid to halt a rise in COVID-19 cases in the town.
The restrictions, which will start next Tuesday (Sept 22) imposed by the Government, will initially be for two weeks.
The new measures include:
*Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens;
*Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only; and Late night operating hours will be restricted, with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm to 5am.
*Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
*Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
*Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
The measures come after Warrington Borough Council attempted to halt the increase figures earlier this week by advising people not to visit other households, which is seen as the biggest cause of rising infection rates.
Commenting on the local lockdown Warrington Borough Council Leader Cllr Russ Bowden said:”We will all have noted with concern the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Warrington in recent weeks. “There has been a rapid increase in our 7-day new cases rate to more than 100 per 100,000, which exceeds the threshold level for Government and public health interest.
“Given this context, the Council announced new guidance on Monday 14 September, advising that residents should avoid mixing with other households in their homes and gardens. We felt that this was a proportionate measure to try and control the spread of Covid-19 here in Warrington and that it could prevent Warrington from being placed into enhanced restrictions by the Government.
“I was pleased to stage a live Teams broadcast yesterday with the Chief Executive and Director of Public Health to explain the situation in Warrington and the need to take additional steps to protect people. We also took a number of questions submitted by the public ahead of the event. The live broadcast had over 1,600 viewers and was well received by residents. A follow-up event is scheduled for Monday 21 September in advance of our Full Council meeting.
“In the live broadcast, I made it clear that the situation would develop rapidly and that further restrictions may be necessary if we fail to control the spread of Covid-19 in Warrington and the region. Discussions have taken place in recent days with the Government and the decision has been made to introduce further restrictions for Warrington (along with other areas), to be effective from Tuesday 22 September.
Cllr Bowden added: “Dialogue over these measures has received our full cooperation and support. They will be introduced for two weeks initially and kept under weekly review, such that they can be lifted when the situation has improved.
He added: “I am urging local people to help us by not seeking to take advantage of ‘one more big night out’ this weekend. Although the new restrictions don’t come into force until Tuesday, please support our efforts to drive down Warrington’s coronavirus rates, by staying in or enjoying a night out responsibly and returning home for 10pm this weekend.”
The new restrictions are in addition to the nationwide six-person limit on social gatherings that came into force on Monday 14 September 2020. The ‘rule of six’ remains in place across the country and sits alongside these additional restrictions in Warrington.
The council and police will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices.
Warrington’s Director of Public Health, Thara Raj, said: “These restrictions, although disappointing for our borough, are a proportionate and necessary response in helping to drive down the number of coronavirus cases.
“As well as these additional measures, please remember the importance of washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance, wearing a cloth face-covering where necessary and getting a test if you have symptoms.
“We would urge everyone to help us by following the restrictions, so we can reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading now. The sooner our infection rates come down, the sooner we can have restrictions lifted. We all have a very important part to play in these efforts.”
Commenting on the local lockdown Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols said:“I know that today’s news that Warrington faces tougher Coronavirus restrictions will be hugely disappointing.
“Many people will be worrying about their loved ones – particularly those who are most vulnerable. Local business owners will be worried about their livelihoods having been hit so hard during the first lockdown.
“However, I firmly believe that these restrictions are necessary if we are going to protect local lives and local livelihoods. And everyone in Warrington is going to have to play their part in tackling the virus by following the new rules.
“The Government will also have to play its part. They must provide Warrington with the resources needed locally, including testing, to support our NHS and our local economy.
“I want to reassure Warrington North residents and businesses that I will be doing all that I can to support those who are struggling at this time. I will be calling for funding support for affected businesses, and my office is here for anyone who is facing difficulties. So please do get in touch.
“If we can all follow the guidance and stay safe, my hope is that the restrictions can be lifted as swiftly as possible.”
Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: “We’ve done incredibly well here in Warrington following the guidance but having looked carefully at the number of cases and the speed of transmission we need to take action to address the spread locally.
“If we don’t get it back under control we run the risk of further measures so I’m urging people to adhere to the proportional guidance coming out today.
“The spread in 20 – 29 year olds is particularly worrying and whilst the majority of these people are fit and well there’s an increasing risk them passing on to older family members which is why we’re asking people not to visit the homes of relatives.
“The decision to ask bars and clubs to close at 10pm is a difficult one but I hope one that will contribute quickly to the goal of stopping further transmission.
Further guidance and details of the measures are due to come into play next Tuesday for Warrington and areas of the North West and I’ll look to keep in contact with ministers over the weekend so that I can support people appropriately.”
Cllr Bob Barr, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Warrington Council said:“The Liberal Democrat Group accepts that new restrictions applied in Warrington to protect the population from the effects of increased community transmission of the Covid-19 virus are necessary, appropriate, and based on the balance of expert opinion. We call on everyone to abide by the rules in order to protect the vulnerable and minimise Covid-19 related deaths.
“We are very concerned that the test, track and trace programme has not, so far, proved adequate in Warrington. It is essential to minimise risks, while respecting the needs of the local economy. Central Government has failed to cooperate adequately with Local Authorities on the roll-out.
“A small minority of residents in Warrington are flaunting the rules and are being aggressive towards those complying with the regulations. They must stop, and if they don’t stop they need to be prosecuted. Covid-19 protection must not become part of the national ‘culture war’.”
Warrington has currently dropped out of the top 10 areas with the highest infection rates, after at one time being 6th in the country – although the number of positive tests remains high.
The town is currently ranked 12th, with 211 new COVID-19 cases in the seven days up to September 14. This equates to 100.5 positive Covid-19 tests per 100,000 of the population.
The latest figures released yesterday revealed 220 new cases, a rate of 104.8 per 100,000.