WARRINGTON Borough Council has confirmed a further list of indoor venues that must close in line with the town’s move into tier 3 – ‘very high risk’ COVID-19 local alert level, which now includes cinemas, bowling alleys, covert halls and theatres.
This means that Warrington’s restrictions will go further than other areas currently in tier 3.
Following the publication of regulations for Warrington, which state that some indoor entertainment venues i.e. casinos, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play centres must close, the council and government have discussed further closures of other settings, in an attempt to bring down the number of cases of coronavirus in the town.
The council has also confirmed that, from 0.01am on Monday 2 November, the following indoor settings and venues will also have to close completely:
·Concert halls, theatres, musical performance venues
·Circuses, funfairs and fixed fairgrounds
Car boot sales, including those that take place outdoors, must also close completely. There will also be additional measures for shisha bars/cafes remaining open in line with the current rules, but with restrictions on the use of shisha pipes, which must not be shared.
The closure of these entertainment venues, plus car boot sales, in addition to the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals as a restaurant, will mean that Warrington’s restrictions go further than other areas currently in tier 3.
The decision has been taken in light of the evidence from SAGE, the government’s scientific advisory body, which shows that extensive measures need to be taken given the extent of transmission of the virus, the continuing rise in cases and in hospital admissions, and, sadly, in deaths.
In order to prioritise the health of Warrington’s communities, and protect the hospital’s capacity as far as possible, the council has taken the decision to go further at this point.
A painful decision to make – but support will be available.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “This has been a painful decision to make for our local businesses, but for the sake of the health of our most vulnerable and elderly loved ones, it is the right path to follow for our town. Put simply, the fewer enclosed public venues that remain open, the lower the risk of the virus being transmitted.
“We have pored over the evidence available from national experts and the local data we have and given our current situation in Warrington we have to take action now. Make no mistake – the current capacity in our hospital, and the availability of intensive care beds, is at an absolutely critical point. And with more than 40 coronavirus-related deaths this month already, we cannot simply stand by and do nothing given the urgency of this escalating public health situation.
“I want to reassure affected businesses and venues that must now close, that financial support will be made available in line with the settlement we agreed with government as part of our move to tier 3. Our officers are currently working through the allocation of this funding and we will make clear how you can access this support through the council website, in the coming days.
“I know this will be a disappointing decision for many of our residents and businesses but, taking an evidence-based view, we know that we need to do more at this point to address the continued high case numbers in our town. The number of people testing positive for coronavirus is just not coming down, and with more people being admitted into hospital, at the beginning of what will be a very testing winter period, we need to act now. It appears inevitable that other areas are likely to follow our lead, given that rates across much of the North West and beyond remain high and are rising.
“I want to thank all of our residents for their commitment to playing their part. Giving up the last seven months of your ‘normal lives’ by following the rules and restrictions could well be the reason someone else is alive today – whether you know them or not. Don’t lose sight of that. And don’t lose sight of the basics amidst the additional rules, like frequently washing your hands, wearing a face covering, maintaining social distance, and reducing the number of social interactions, which are the most effective steps we can all take.”
Further information on Warrington’s guidance and restrictions will be updated in due course at warrington.gov.uk/coronavirus