Residents in the borough of Rochdale are being urged to follow the latest government guidance to prevent the strictest level of local restrictions being imposed.
The warning comes after the government introduced new local coronavirus (COVID-19) alert levels, also known as tiers. The levels tell residents and local authorities what to do and how to manage the virus in their area.
The borough of Rochdale is currently in the 'high' level of local restrictions, also known as tier 2, along with the rest of Greater Manchester. The means that residents can now be fined for socialising with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. This includes pubs, bars and restaurants.
Local officials have warned that coronavirus cases continue to rise and the borough could soon be moved to 'very high', the highest restriction level currently only in place in the Liverpool city region. This would see stricter measures being introduced with many hospitality venues being forced to close.
Councillor Allen Brett, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "A number of businesses across Rochdale are already hanging by a thread and another full lockdown could tip them over the edge, closing them for good.
"The very high measures don't come with adequate support that would enable us to avoid an unacceptable level of economic shock. We are pressing government to give us the necessary support and in the meantime we need to pull together to get the infection rate down.
"The government have not reintroduced shielding for older and clinically vulnerable people but we need to protect each other and I am urging people who are more at-risk to take extra precautions."
The new restrictions mean that:
- You must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place, including in pubs, bars and restaurants.
- You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law).
- Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law.
- Certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm-5am.
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
- Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport.
- See all current coronavirus restrictions
The borough's infection rate has risen to 391 per 100,000 people - the highest figure recorded in the borough since the pandemic began. The rate is more than 4 times higher than 4 weeks ago.
Kuiama Thompson, consultant in public health at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We continue to be very concerned about the worsening figures in our borough.
"Unfortunately the national picture shows that the virus is once again starting to the spread to older, more vulnerable residents which is leading to hospitalisations and sadly deaths.
"We need people to do the right thing. Follow the rules so less of us catch it, and less of us spread it. Remember the basics – wash your hands, wear a mask and keep your distance."