Government declares Preston as ‘area of intervention’, imposes stricter restrictions


Britain has "put the brakes on" easing lockdown measures and imposed new rules on millions of households in northern England, following concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain has "put the brakes on" easing lockdown measures and imposed new rules on millions of households in northern England, following concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

PRESTON in Lancashire has become the latest UK city to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus infection rates.

Under the restrictions announced on Friday (8), people from separate households will be banned from meeting each other at home.

Measures will be similar to those in east Lancashire, Greater Manchester and parts of west Yorkshire.

Official figures showed a rolling seven-day rate of new cases of the virus in Preston rose from 20.3 per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 27, to 32.8 in the seven days to August 3.

“Government has declared Preston as an ‘area of intervention’ following a spike of coronavirus cases in the city,” Preston City Council announced on Twitter.

“The announcement means the city will be subject to additional measures seen elsewhere in the county.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The past week has been difficult for many people in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, and I thank everyone in these areas for their patience and willingness to follow the rules.

“…unfortunately, the data does not yet show a decrease in the transmission of this terrible virus. It means we must keep the current restrictions in place to allow more time for the impact of this ban on indoor gatherings to be felt, and make sure local residents and their loved ones are protected. At the request of the local area we are also extending these restrictions to Preston.”

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire’s public health director said it was “extremely important that we act now to prevent the situation from getting any worse”.

“The evidence is clear, we all need to take extra precautions to protect our loved ones. Coronavirus affects all of communities, and we all need to do our part to prevent the spread from continuing rise. I also want to be clear that this is affecting people from both south Asian and white ethnic backgrounds, particularly those living in poor socio-economic conditions in our city. We need to avoid mixing between households and to maintain two-metre social distancing, particularly in pubs and clubs.”

The decision on Preston came as research from advisory group SAGE concluded that coronavirus infection rates could be growing across the country.

The reproduction number — referred to as R — for the UK is between 0.8 to 1, but SAGE indicated it could be higher across England.