The whole of Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire has been delegated as a an “enhanced response area” because of a rise in Covid-19 cases, with the government offering additional support to control the virus’ spread.
As well as the introduction of surge testing and an increase in test centres, military personnel are assisting with door-to-door testing in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant. Residents have been advised to avoid meeting indoors and asked to “reconsider non-essential travel” out of the area. Local authorities will also have discretion to enforce the wearing of face-coverings in communal areas of schools.
In Greater Manchester, cases in Stockport are increasing at the fastest rate with Salford and Manchester also in the top five areas in the country which have seen the biggest week-on-week rise in infections. In Stockport, cases have risen to 187 per 100,000 in the last week. The UK overall recorded only 26 per 100,000.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is calling for extra and faster vaccinations, but Minister Robert Jenrick says the government will not deviate from the current approach, in vaccinating in age bands, in any one area. Both spoke this morning on BBC Breakfast news.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham said:
“We are working with the government who are taking a sensible approach and we support it but with one caveat: bring forward supplies and vaccinations now to make a real difference.”
He went to ask people to follow the advice – “people need to review their plans to manage risk, don’t cancel plans but minimise indoor interaction and non-essential travel. I’d say they shouldn’t travel across UK but take a common-sense approach.” Andy also urged everyone to “please get your jab and a second jab which can then offer 87% protection.” A pop-up vaccine clinic in Stockport on 10th and 11th June will provide a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without an appointment to those eligible (8+ weeks since the first vaccine), or book an appointment via the NHS website.
When asked about whether he thought opening up of restrictions on 21st June should go ahead or perhaps introduce a 2-or 4-week delay, he said: “The government is weighing up options; they have a difficult decision ahead but to get more confidence now they need to act immediately, right now, with more vaccines.” That way Mr Burnham believes there is more hope of sticking to roadmap plans.
When asked whether the vaccine programme should be accelerated across Greater Manchester, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick said there had been a great effort with high numbers of over 25s coming forward, but he said the government was following its original programme of going down the ages.
“At the moment we are going to stick with the advice we have received from the JCVI, our advisers, who say that it’s better to continue to work down the age categories on a national basis rather than adopt a regional or geographical approach.
“We are not going to adopt a geographical approach where one part of the country gets significant more vaccines than another.
“But what we are doing is putting in much more resources to help the local council and the NHS in Greater Manchester to get people to those vaccine centres or get the vaccines to them.”
Regarding the advice to minimise non-essential travel he said is wasn’t law and there would be no returns to local lockdowns but the government had issued extra guidance and hoped that people would take “personal responsibility and good judgement but think about how they go about daily lives.”
He added that the Prime Minister is reviewing the data daily; there are 5 weeks between each step of the roadmap and a decision around lifting all restrictions in expected on or around 14th June.
The local authorities affected by the change in guidance are:
- Blackburn with Darwen (where further measures are already in place)
- Bolton (where further measures are already in place)
- Burnley (where further measures are already in place)
- Ribble Valley
- South Ribble
- West Lancashire
Outside of Greater Manchester and Lancashire, further measures are already in place in Bedford, Kirklees, Leicester City, Hounslow and North Tyneside.