Warrington’s cabinet member for Public Health, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, and Director of Public Health, Thara Raj, have clarified what the current guidance means for Warrington, following recent local and national announcements.
There is a growing need for clarity of the guidance and rules as people are getting confused. Cllr McLaughlin and Ms Raj try to explain some of the new arrangements and it means for people who live work and socialise in Warrington.
What are the current national restrictions?
On Tuesday 22 September, the government issued further guidance, which applies to all areas of the country, including Warrington. This guidance says:
- People should use public transport for essential purposes only
- No spectators at amateur/semi-professional sport
- Only 15 people can attend weddings, civil ceremonies and receptions (from Monday 28 September)
- You should wear face coverings in hospitality settings when not sat at your table, and in taxis (unless exempt)
- People who can work from home, should do so
- Hospitality for food and drink will be table service only
- Late night restriction of operating hours, with hospitality, leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm and 5am
- Businesses and venues will need to display QR code posters for people to scan using the NHS test and trace app
- People should continue to follow the ‘rule of six’
What other restrictions are imposed on Warrington at the moment?
Warrington is also subject to local restrictions. The additional restriction for Warrington at the moment, alongside all of the other national restrictions and guidance, is that you must not visit other households or private gardens, inside or outside the borough, unless you have formed a household support bubble.
There are, of course, some exemptions. Other people can still come inside your home or garden for specific purposes, set out in law, including:
- to attend a birth at the mother’s request
- to visit a person who is dying
- to fulfil a legal obligation
- for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
- for the purposes of education or training
- for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider, or informal childcare for children aged under 14, as long as this is a consistent arrangement
- to enable someone to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- to facilitate a house move
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents
What is a household support bubble?
A support bubble is a close support network of people between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household. In a nutshell, a support bubble is the same as when we had full lockdown.
What is the ‘rule of six’?
The ‘rule of six’ means a maximum of six people can meet from multiple households outdoors or at indoor venues, as long as you continue to socially distance from people outside your households. Please remember though, that due to the current restrictions on Warrington, that you can’t meet other people in your household or private garden, or theirs, unless you’ve formed a household support bubble.
Although not enforceable or an official restriction, people in Warrington are also advised not to:
- socialise with people you don’t live with (or aren’t in your household support bubble) in any public venue
- visit people in care homes, unless in exceptional circumstances
So, while you can technically still go to a restaurant with five other people from different households, for example, we are asking residents to question whether it’s the right thing to do at this time – even if, by the official restrictions, you are still able to do so.
Is Warrington in local lockdown, because I’ve heard different things?
This is where it gets a little tricky.
Strictly speaking, Warrington is not technically in a ‘local lockdown’, although it’s understandable that a lot of people will refer to Warrington as such, given the additional local restrictions. Warrington is officially an ‘area of enhanced intervention’ – and this is an important distinction to make.
For example, the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that areas in ‘local lockdown’ would be subject to changing guidance for people shielding. Given that Warrington isn’t officially in a local lockdown situation, residents are not currently being asked to shield – although if you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, we urge you to take the utmost caution. Work from home if you can, and if you are heading out and about to the shops, for example, we would urge you to visit at quieter times, if possible, like first thing in the morning.
What is the new NHS test and trace app?
The new app allows you to report symptoms, book or order a coronavirus test, and check in to venues by scanning a QR code, helping the NHS trace individuals who may have coronavirus.
The app will help the NHS understand where, and how quickly, the virus is spreading, so it can respond appropriately. It does this while protecting a user’s anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.
It is designed to notify its users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, and it needs to be downloaded by as many people as possible in the borough to track the virus and stop its spread.
Businesses and other venues now need to display NHS QR code posters so that app users can check-in. This will help support the national test and trace effort.
We’ve been assured that no personal information about users is revealed, and the app does not track users, or their location, and does not have access to phone contacts or any personal information held on a phone. We are aware that the app does not work with all models of phones and have raised this as a concern.
You can find a full list of common frequently asked questions relating to the coronavirus restrictions on the council website at: warrington.gov.uk/coronavirus-restrictions-warrington