New restrictions came into effect across Halton this week to try to halt the increasing number of coronavirus cases that have been recorded over recent weeks.
Halton has one of the highest rates of infection in the country at the moment and currently the most rapidly increasing rate of infection of any English Local Authority area.
Currently there is a rate of over 173 cases per 100,000 population, which has more than doubled in just the last week alone.
Halton is seeing sustained community transmission, which means that cases are not just restricted to individual households or associated with specific settings, but that there is active person to person spread in the general community.
As a result of the current situation, Halton Borough Council is urging people across the borough to make sure that they follow both the restrictions that have been put in place, as well as the additional advice given by the Government. The current restrictions mean that:
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.
In addition, to reduce the spread of the virus, the Government advises:
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.
Avoid socialising with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any public venue
Avoid visiting friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.
Ahead of the weekend, Sarah Johnson Griffiths, Halton’s Public Health Consultant wants people to stop and think about the things they can do individually to minimise the risk of spreading of the virus, saying: “What we really need people to do is to think about why we need to have these regulations put in place and do the right thing to help improve Halton’s current position.
“This means following the rules and not mixing with other households in homes and in private gardens, but also trying to minimise social contact with other households as much as possible elsewhere.
“In particular, I would urge people to follow advice and not attend sporting events as spectators, where there is a real danger that you will be mixing with others who are infectious and may not yet have symptoms, or who are asymptomatic.
“We have seen evidence from the North East where a football match attended by around 300 supporters, resulted in 61 new Covid-19 cases and all attendees needing to self-isolate for 14 days – we do not want this to happen in Halton.
“I would ask people to consider if attending a sporting event with possibly hundreds of spectators is worth the potential risk to their own health, their family’s health and the health of the wider community.
“If you do make the choice to mix with others outside of your household at sporting events, or in public venues like pubs and restaurants, you must not do this in groups of more than 6 and you must make sure that you are able to maintain social distance with those outside of your household or social bubble – if you cannot do this, you should not be doing it, it’s that simple.”
In addition to Halton’s local restrictions, new national guidelines were announced earlier in the week by the Prime Minister.
These included the requirement to wear face coverings in hospitality settings when not sat at your table and in taxis (unless you are exempt). Changes were made to the number of people allowed to attend weddings from Monday 28 September – this is now 15 people, reduced from 30, and workers who can work from home, were asked to do so.
For the full national guidance and details of what you can and cannot do go to gov.uk.