Tali Fraser

Three hours to prepare for a local lockdown

Sign above Market Street in Manchester, Picture: Getty

My weekend plans have been ruined by Matt Hancock. The government has announced new lockdown restrictions for over four million people – banning separate households from meeting indoors – in Greater Manchester (where I live) along with parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

What does that mean in practice?

When announcing the lockdown on Thursday evening, the Health Secretary tweeted that ‘people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors’, which sounds pretty rudimentary. But would this mean we go back to working from home; that spaces like pubs and restaurants would be closed even if you only visit with your household; could a cleaner come around? No one in Greater Manchester knew. It doesn’t help that the lockdown was announced on twitter only three hours before it came into force, with no detail and no statement on the government’s website. 

We are expected to know the details of the policy within three hours of it being announced on Twitter

It was over two hours later, past 11 in the evening, that the Department of Health finally revealed that people in these areas will not be allowed to mix with other households in private homes or gardens, but that they can still go to bars and pubs, so long as they do not go meet with anyone from another household.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, has asked for young and old alike to observe these requirements, but we will have to wait and see how long they last for – the policy will be reviewed each week. With the country only just opening up for business, will this now effectively shut up shop?

The statistics in Greater Manchester don’t make for pretty reading – coronavirus rates last week had been falling across the region, but they are now rising in nine out of ten of Greater Manchester’s boroughs and ‘across a wider geography’, according to Andy Burnham.

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