More than 4 million people across swathes of northern England were given less than three hours’ notice on Thursday night that they must endure tighter lockdown restrictions to stem a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
But what exactly do the new measures mean for those living in affected areas in the north and elsewhere in England?
Where do the tighter lockdown restrictions apply in northern England?
Greater Manchester, including the City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford. In Lancashire, affected areas include Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale. Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, are also included.
What do the new restrictions mean?
The government says people living in the highlighted areas are not allowed to meet other people they do not live with inside a private home or garden. Exemptions apply where people have formed support bubbles or for “other limited exemptions to be specified by law”. Published guidance also states that if people live in the affected places they should not visit other people’s properties or gardens outside the areas with additional lockdown restrictions.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms remain open in the affected areas but people are being told not to socialise with other households in these settings.
How will the new rules be enforced?
New laws passed by the government will enforce the restrictions on people meeting in private homes and gardens, meaning to do so will be illegal unless an exemption applies. The police will be able to issue fixed-penalty notices of up to £100 to those who breach the rules.
Can people still meet each other outside in the affected areas?
The guidance on meeting people in public outdoor spaces in the affected areas remains the same, in line with the rest of England. People can meet outside in groups of no more than six people, unless the group includes only people from two households. Social distancing must be maintained with those who do not live together in households, unless they are in the same support bubble.
Can people still go to work?
Yes, people living inside and outside the affected areas can continue to travel to and from work.
What about those people who are shielding?
From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people do not have to follow shielding guidance “unless they live in Blackburn with Darwen in the north-west and other local affected areas across England where shielding continues”. But people are being told not to visit family or friends in care homes, unless in exceptional circumstances.
Can weddings and funerals still take place?
Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals in affected areas are allowed but must be limited to no more than 30 people. People are also allowed to travel to the affected areas for these ceremonies. Places of worship are open to visitors but people must socially distance from other households, as well as take extra care, such as by wearing face coverings, and the government recommends religious services take place outdoors, if possible.
What about people wanting to meet with family and friends to celebrate Eid?
People in the affected areas should not visit or host friends or family in private homes or gardens, the government says, nor should they meet and mix in restaurants or cafes. Two households, or up to six people from different households, may meet outdoors in public spaces but social distancing must be maintained for those who do not live together.
People may attend mosques but social distancing must be maintained between households. “This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings). We recommend at this time that, if possible, prayer/religious services take place outdoors,” government guidance states.
What about places that were already facing restrictions?
In Blackburn with Darwen, where lockdown easing was paused this month, indoor facilities including gyms, fitness and dance studios, sports courts, swimming pools and water parks remain closed by law. The same measures apply to Bradford. Leicester city, which was already facing tighter lockdown restrictions, is also included in the measures restricting household visits, although pubs and restaurants there are still due to reopen from Monday as planned. In Luton, temporary restrictions will be lifted from Saturday to bring it in line with the rest of England after the government said “significant progress has been made in controlling the virus”.
What about the rules for the rest of England?
Outside of the affected areas, the lockdown guidance remains the same for the rest of England. People are allowed to meet in groups of two households in any location, including inside private homes, but social distancing must be maintained between those who do not live together unless they are in the same support bubble. So-called support bubbles, which allow single adult households to mix without social distancing with one other household they do not live with, are counted as a single household. Outdoors, up to six people from different households can meet. Households are also allowed to stay away from their homes with one other household, but social distancing must be observed. It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes. Businesses can host larger groups providing they follow Covid-19 secure guidelines.
Do people understand the nationwide lockdown rules in England?
Fewer than half of the English public fully understand lockdown rules, a study has found. In an ongoing survey of more than 70,000 adults, researchers from University College London found that about 45% of respondents said they had a “broad understanding” of the current rules in England, with only 14% saying they understand the rules completely now lockdown has eased.
• This article was amended on 2 August 2020 because an earlier version misspelled Kirklees as Kirkless.