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Stockport and Trafford removed from current local lockdown restrictions in Greater Manchester

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Mikey / Flickr

Announcements regarding the local lockdown restrictions in place in Greater Manchester are being made today. 

Greater Manchester now has the lowest number of coronavirus cases (788 positive tests) since the end of July, according to the latest infection rates. 

The infection rate is also continuing to fall in seven of the region’s boroughs including in Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Bolton.

The local lockdown in Greater Manchester restricts people from socialising with people who aren’t in your household or support bubble. This means you cannot socialise with people you do not live with in indoor public venues, or visit friends and families homes or care homes. 

Labour has said the government will be releasing Trafford from local lockdown restrictions, despite local leaders wanting to keep measures in place.

A statement from Trafford Labour reads: “We all want to see restrictions lifted as soon as possible, guided by the data and when it is safe to do so.

“Households being unable to mix in their own homes and gardens is of course extremely frustrating and difficult, and we are grateful to those who have followed the guidance and made sacrifices over the past month since local restrictions were introduced.

“This has contributed to a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in Trafford, so thank you.

“It is imperative that when restrictions are lifted we can be confident we will not need to return to them a few weeks later because of a resultant spike in cases. That would be devastating for families, and hit our local economy hard.

“Whilst we accept that there will be a range of views from residents on this – and that we all want to see restrictions lifted safely as soon as possible – in line with the advice of our Director of Public Health, Trafford Council did not this week request the lifting of local lockdown restrictions. Instead we asked for another week or two of local restrictions in the interests of public safety.”

This means people in Trafford will be able to meet other households indoors and in their gardens once more, so long as social distancing can be maintained. 

Local leaders of Trafford said this is a ‘delicate time’ to ease restrictions with schools going back next week. The borough’s infection rate has been increasing in the last few days and is almost twice the national average.

As well as Trafford, Stockport is also having restrictions lifted, with Hazel Grove MP William Wragg confirming it to the Manchester Evening News.

This means people in Stockport will no longer have to follow the stricter regulations which have applied this past month – however, the government hasn’t confirmed when the changes will officially come into effect.

Mike Pennington / Geograph

Mr Wragg told the MEN: “I welcome this development. I think it was the right decision. I was pleased to work with the leader of the council.

“Even though we are different political parties, we have cooperated, and data has been shared, and this decision reflects the data which shows much reduced rates of infection in Stockport.

“I want to pay tribute to everyone working to bring that reduction about, and to the residents of Stockport for following the guidance. We can go back to a greater degree of freedom, while keeping the guidance in mind.”

It’s thought Bolton will be removed from the restrictions as well, as the borough also has a low rate of infection, but it is yet to be confirmed. 

Additionally, the restrictions in Burnley and Hyndburn in Lancashire will be lifted from next Wednesday with the rules matching the rest of England.

Elsewhere in Lancashire, Preston and parts of Pendle will remain under the current lockdown restrictions, while other parts of Pendle and Blackburn with Darwen still have to follow the tougher rules that were implemented recently. 

According to the latest data from the ONS, around 2,200 people per day in private households in England are estimated to be newly infected with Covid-19 between August 14th and 20th.

This a decrease from 2,400 the week prior. 

A new payment scheme has also been announced by Mr Hancock that will benefit those on Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit that are required to self-isolate or unable to work from home. 

There is a trail starting in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham. This sees eligible people who test positive for the virus receiving £120 for their 10-day period of self-isolation. 

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Primark confirm Trafford Centre store will open for 24 hours after lockdown

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Gerald England / Geograph

It was reported earlier this month that Primark wanted to open some of its stores for 24 hours after lockdown ended.

The budget retailer has now confirmed the news, with 11 stores across the UK set to open for 24 hours next week.

Primark plans to re-open its stores in England next Wednesday, December 2nd, with all stores seeing extended trading hours.

This is to cater for expected higher demand before Christmas, and to help reduce queues in a bid to help social distancing.


While Primark stores in retail parks and shopping centres can trade until 10pm at a minimum, 11 will be open for 24 hours – including the Trafford Centre branch.

Stores open 24 hours will open from 7am on Wednesday December 2nd and trade until their normal closing time on Thursday December 3rd.

List of updated opening times for most Primark stores:

  • Town High Street: these stores will be open until 8pm
  • Town Shopping Centres: these will also trade until 8pm
  • Retail Parks: stores here will trade until 10pm as a minimum
  • Major Shopping Centres: these will also trade until 10pm as a minimum
  • Major High Street Stores: the majority of these will trade until 10pm

The full list of stores opening 24 hours:

  • Trafford Centre
  • York Monks Cross
  • Leeds White Rose
  • Bluewater
  • Lakeside
  • Birmingham Fort
  • Meadowhall
  • Stratford
  • White City
  • Charlton
  • Gateshead Metrocentre

Primark’s CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “We are delighted to re-open our stores in England on 2 December, with longer shopping hours to give our customers more time to safely do their festive shopping.

“We have everything this season that our customers expect from Primark, including our famous Christmas jumpers, festive pyjamas and much, much more.

“All of our extensive safety measures remain in place to help ensure shopping at Primark is an enjoyable, safe experience for everyone.”

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Why London is Tier 2 but Manchester is back in Tier 3

‘We’ve not seen the demand rises’

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Colin and Kim Hansen / Wikimedia

The latest news of which areas are to be placed in the new system’s toughest tier, Tier 3, have sparked outrage online.

Comparisons are being made on the vastly different Covid-19 infection rates across towns and cities in England.

Yesterday, the question ‘how is London in Tier 2 when it has an R rate of 1-1.2 and cases increasing by as much as 3% a day?’ was trending on Twitter. In comparison, the R rate for the North West is 0.8-1 with cases falling as much as 3% per day. 

Some of the North’s Conservative politicians aren’t being as reserved as Andy Burnham, who responded to the news on BBC Radio Manchester by saying ‘I’m not disagreeing with the Government’s decision’.

Chris Green, MP for Bolton West and Atherton hinted that he thinks the government might be looking at some regions more favourably than others. He said: “I will look forward to reading the analysis that the government must have done.

“Matt Hancock said that Cornwall is in T1 because of how well people have behaved. Does he spend much time there or has it been reported to him? I would like to see that report and the GM version.”

In London, the Covid-19 picture varies across boroughs, much like in Greater Manchester. For instance, in Havering, the rate is 342 cases per 100,000 people.

Eight of the 32 boroughs are above the national average and thirteen are higher than the rate found in Trafford in Greater Manchester.

Other areas, such as Camden, have rates of 88 cases per 100,000 people. The overall infection rate is 182 cases per 100,000 people, down from 196 the week prior.

In light of the rate of infections, most commentators considered London to be on the edge of being placed in Tier 3.

However, while the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is increasing, it has not hit levels compared to the first spike of infections earlier this year.

In the height of the first spike, 160 Covid patients were in three hospitals in West London with 122 requiring ventialation.

Now, the chief executive of the trust that runs the three hospitals say they have 44 patients with positive tests, taking up 16% of all beds. Of those, 28 are in critical care and only 22 require ventilators.

Professor Tim Orchard, the chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We’ve not seen the demand rises that some parts of the country have.

“We have however seen some of our partner trusts have some more pressure on their acute services.”

To compare, while Greater Manchester’s overall situation has improved in recent weeks it is acknowledged that the overall spread remains very high.

The average infection rate for the region is 276 per 100,000 people. The national figure is 208.

In Oldham on November 4th, this figure was above 800. Now, the rate has fallen by 30% but there are still 388 cases per 100,000 people.

Rates are falling across all ten boroughs but that only began recently. There were more than 600 new Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester last week, with more than 1,000 patients in intensive care and high dependency units.

Burnham explained the hospital figures as ‘significant but modest reductions’. Essentially, in Greater Manchester the infection rate is currently above average but decreasing faster than England as a whole.

So, while we’re in Tier 3 now, we’re on the right path to get out of it.

The Greater London Authority and Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tier 2 as a city-wide approach across London was the ‘right and sensible option’, despite some local MPs calling for a borough by borough assessment.

Boris Johnson, former mayor, agrees with Khan. He said: “The incidence is different in different parts of the city, but there are many things that unite London and encourage transmission across its vast network and I am afraid that is still I think the most sensible way of dealing with it.”

In Greater Manchester, the services are run by ten unitary authorities, however, the area has been dealt with as a single entity with the government making its tier assessment on that basis.

Tory MP, William Wragg (Hazel Grove) said he will be voting against the new tier system, and asked other MPs to do the same. Sir Graham Brady (Tory MP for Altrincham and Sale West) has added he will do the same.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish said he was ‘minded to oppose’ the proposal. He said: “This will be a heavy blow for the hospitality businesses across Denton and Reddish who have invested heavily in Covid-secure measures to allow them to reopen safely.

“I will look very carefully at the measures to be brought before Parliament.

“I support the new tougher enforcement powers to ensure business compliance with Covid regulations, but I don’t support the arbitrary singling out of the hospitality sector, which all the data shows is responsible for around just 3% of transmissions.

“What we actually need is to protect the most vulnerable, and roll-out proper localised testing and contact tracing.”

 

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Full list of which tier every region in England will be in from Wednesday

Everything you need to know…

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The new tiered system is coming into force on Wednesday and promises to be ‘stronger’ than the last.

Each local authority across England has now been placed into either tier 1,2 or 3. The new tier system will come into force from December 2nd, when the four-week national lockdown ends.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced on November 26th which areas would be placed in which tier as part of the government’s Covid Winter Plan.

There are stricter measures in place for areas put into tiers 2 and 3. Most notably, in Tier 3 where hospitality will remain completely closed except for delivery and takeaway. 

For those in Tier 2, alcohol can only be served alongside a ‘substantial’ meal which includes either a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal. Those hospitality venues that cannot provide this must close. 

The only areas to be placed into Tier 1 (medium alert) include Cornwall, the Scilly Isles and the Isle of Wight.

In Tier 2 (high alert):

  • North West:
    • Cumbria
    • Liverpool City Region
    • Warrington and Cheshire
  • Yorkshire:
    • York
    • North Yorkshire

      West Midlands:

    • Worcestershire
    • Herefordshire
    • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
  • East Midlands
    • Rutland
    • Northamptonshire
  • East of England:
    • Suffolk
    • Hertfordshire
    • Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
    • Norfolk
    • Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
    • Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
  • London:
    • all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
  • South East:
    • East Sussex
    • West Sussex
    • Brighton and Hove
    • Surrey
    • Reading
    • Wokingham
    • Bracknell Forest
    • Windsor and Maidenhead
    • West Berkshire
    • Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
    • Buckinghamshire
    • Oxfordshire
  • South West:
    • South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
    • Bath and North East Somerset
    • Dorset
    • Bournemouth
    • Christchurch
    • Poole
    • Gloucestershire
    • Wiltshire and Swindon
    • Devon

Tier 3 (Very High Alert):

  • North East:
    • Hartlepool
    • Middlesbrough
    • Stockton-on-Tees
    • Redcar and Cleveland
    • Darlington
    • Sunderland
    • South Tyneside
    • Gateshead
    • Newcastle upon Tyne
    • North Tyneside
    • County Durham
    • Northumberland
  • North West:
    • Greater Manchester
    • Lancashire
    • Blackpool
    • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Yorkshire and The Humber:
    • The Humber
    • West Yorkshire
    • South Yorkshire
  • West Midlands:
    • Birmingham and Black Country
    • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
    • Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
  • East Midlands: 
    • Derby and Derbyshire
    • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
    • Leicester and Leicestershire
    • Lincolnshire
  • South East:
    • Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
    • Kent and Medway
  • South West:
    • Bristol
    • South Gloucestershire
    • North Somerset

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