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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Revellers flock to Manchester’s pubs and bars for a night on the tiles despite lockdown rules

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Revellers flocked to Manchester’s pubs and bars for a night out on the tiles despite new stricter lockdown rules imposed just days ago. 

Partygoers took advantage of the hot weather this weekend to head out drinking, but many people were spotted close together, contrary to recommendations from the government to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

Pictures from Manchester, which is one of the areas subject to new lockdown rules, showed drinkers on Saturday night crowded outside nightclubs, pubs and restaurants.

In Blackpool, which is not subject to the new lockdown restrictions, groups of people could been seen having a great time out on the town, with one mask wearing man carrying his friend on his back while another snapped a picture.

It comes as new restrictions were announced in a bid to stop the increasing spread of coronavirus across Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said around 4.5million people in the north of England are banned from meeting others from different households in their homes and gardens.

However, households are able to go to bars, pubs and other hospitality venues but two households should not go together, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed. 

The news of local lockdowns and an increase in coronavirus cases didn’t stop revellers hitting the pubs this weekend.  It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson has ordered officials to work-up a plan for avoiding a second national lockdown.

Revellers were seen in large groups outside various clubs and pubs in Manchester on Saturday night

Revellers were seen in large groups outside various clubs and pubs in Manchester on Saturday night

A group of friends out on the town have a hug on Manchester's Wilmslow Road which was packed on Saturday night

A group of friends out on the town have a hug on Manchester’s Wilmslow Road which was packed on Saturday night

A group of drinkers out on the town in Blackpool have fun with the area very busy on a Saturday night

A group of drinkers out on the town in Blackpool have fun with the area very busy on a Saturday night

Groups of partygoers crowd together on Wilmslow Road as people took advantage of the good weather to go out and have fun

Groups of partygoers crowd together on Wilmslow Road as people took advantage of the good weather to go out and have fun

A queue of revellers outside in Blackpool looking to have some fun on Saturday night in the hot weather

A queue of revellers outside in Blackpool looking to have some fun on Saturday night in the hot weather

Large groups of people were huddled together outside the Dirty Martini as they took advantage of the good weather to go outside

Large groups of people were huddled together outside the Dirty Martini as they took advantage of the good weather to go outside 

It comes as new restrictions were announced in a bid to stop the increasing spread of coronavirus across Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

It comes as new restrictions were announced in a bid to stop the increasing spread of coronavirus across Greater Manchester and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

The sweeping lockdown in northern England was met with fury – with the UK Health Secretary forced to defend the ‘deeply chaotic’ announcement.

Matt Hancock posted a tweet at 9.15pm on Thursday revealing that many areas would be hit with new rules banning people from different households meeting in homes or private gardens.

However, people are allowed to meet up outside which includes pub beer gardens and outdoor seating at restaurants. 

The advice reads: ‘You can continue to meet in public outdoor spaces including outdoor seating or beer gardens in groups of no more than six people, unless the group includes only people from two households.

‘You cannot meet people you do not live with in a private garden.’

The new rules are expected to be subject to a weekly review.

Three friends have a great time on Saturday night in Blackpool outside a takeaway

Three friends have a great time on Saturday night in Blackpool outside a takeaway

Pictures from Manchester, which is one of the areas subject to new lockdown rules, showed drinkers on Saturday night crowded outside nightclubs, pubs and restaurants

Pictures from Manchester, which is one of the areas subject to new lockdown rules, showed drinkers on Saturday night crowded outside nightclubs, pubs and restaurants

Pictures from Manchester, which is one of the areas subject to new lockdown rules, showed drinkers on Saturday night crowded outside nightclubs, pubs and restaurants

Pictures from Manchester, which is one of the areas subject to new lockdown rules, showed drinkers on Saturday night crowded outside nightclubs, pubs and restaurants

A woman on the floor is given some water by her friend on Saturday night in Blackpool

A woman on the floor is given some water by her friend on Saturday night in Blackpool

But many criticised the details of the restrictions for causing confusion among those affected.

On Friday, a statement released by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in partnership with council leaders said the timing and content of the announcement ‘has caused confusion and distress for our residents’.

It is ‘strongly recommended’ that in future ‘full supporting details should be available to the public at the moment any public or media statement is made’, the GMCA said.

The new restrictions apply to Greater Manchester, including the City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford.

They also apply to Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale in Lancashire, and Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire. 

It comes as Boris Johnson has ordered officials to work-up a plan for avoiding a second national lockdown, according to reports.

The Prime Minister is considering asking the elderly to shield once again and is mulling lockdown-like conditions for London should there be a second wave of coronavirus infections, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times said.

The claims come after Mr Johnson was forced to announce a slow down of the lockdown easing on Friday, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases was recorded, with prevalence in the community thought to be rising for the first time since May.

The Times reported the Conservative Party leader held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for averting another nationwide lockdown that could stall any potential economic recovery.

Under the proposals, a greater number of people would be asked to take part in the shielding programme, based on their age or particular risk factors that have been identified since March, said the Telegraph.

It could even see those aged between 50 and 70 given ‘personalised risk ratings’, said the Times, in a move that would add to the 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable and asked to shield themselves from society during the spring peak.

The advice was only lifted on Saturday for those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remains in place until August 16 for those shielding in Wales.

Other ideas mooted should the R-rate escalate in the capital include restricting travel beyond the M25 and putting a stop to staying at other people’s houses – similar to policies implemented in local lockdowns imposed in Leicester and parts of the north-west of England in recent days.

But Downing Street sources distanced themselves from the detail in the reports, calling them ‘speculative’.

On top of the alleged lockdown avoidance preparations, experts have speculated that ministers might have to order the closure of pubs, which were permitted to start serving again on July 4, if schools are to reopen fully in September.

Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said earlier a ‘trade off’ could be required if the Prime Minister’s pledge is to be met.

His comments followed chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty’s remarks that the country was ‘near the limit’ for opening up society following the coronavirus lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was forced to deny that it had abandoned its pledge to regularly test care home residents through the summer following a leaked memo from Professor Jane Cummings, the Government’s adult social care testing director.

The Tory administration has come in for criticism for failing to do more to prevent Covid-19 infections from reaching care homes, where some of the country’s most vulnerable population reside, during the initial spring peak.

According to the Times, Prof Cummings wrote to local authority leaders to inform them that ‘previously advised timelines for rolling out regular testing in care homes’ were being altered because of ‘unexpected delays’.

Regular testing of residents and staff was meant to have started on July 6 but will now be pushed back until September 7 for older people and those with dementia, PA news agency understands.

A department spokeswoman confirmed there were issues with ‘asymptomatic re-testing’.

The problems relate to a combination of factors, including a restraint on the ability to build testing kits, already announced issues with Randox swab kits, overall lab capacity, and greater than anticipated return rate of care home test kits.

The DHSC spokeswoman said: ‘It is completely wrong to suggest care homes were deliberately deprived of testing resources and any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms can immediately access a free test.

‘We continue to issue at least 50,000 tests a day to care homes across the country and prioritise tests for higher-risk outbreak areas.

‘A combination of factors have meant that a more limited number of testing kits, predominantly used in care homes, are currently available for asymptomatic re-testing and we are working round the clock with providers to restore capacity.’

DHSC said it would not comment on leaked documents when asked about Prof Cummings’ memo.

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