Coronavirus: Bolton asks for restrictions to remain after spike

Bolton Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bolton has had its highest seven-day rate since late May

A spike in coronavirus cases in Bolton has prompted council bosses to ask for restrictions to remain in place – a day before they were due to be lifted.

Tighter rules were introduced in July in Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire after concerns the virus was being spread between households.

Bolton currently has one of the highest rates for new virus cases per 100,000 residents in England.

The council said it had made the decision “with a heavy heart”.

On Friday, the government said measures banning people from different households from meeting indoors or private gardens would be lifted in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

But the council said the “unforeseen spike” in the local infection rate means restrictions should remain in place “until further notice”.

Bolton has recorded 170 new cases in the week to 29 August, up from 53 the week before.

This means it has a rate of 59 new cases per 100,000 residents, one of the highest in England.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Tighter Covid-19 rules were introduced in Greater Manchester in July

The decision would also mean that certain businesses, including those offering close-contact services, will not reopen as planned.

Council leader David Greenhalgh said “it is with a heavy heart that [we] have come to this decision and this will be incredibly disappointing for both residents and business owners.

“We urged the government to lift Bolton out of the additional restrictions at a time when infection rates were low. This was the right decision at the time.

“However, there has been a sudden and unforeseeable rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Bolton.

“We have always been led by the data, which means we have no choice but to act quickly to keep everyone safe.”

The council said new cases in Bolton were spread across the borough and not limited to a single area, community or place of work.

Infections between different households appear to be the main cause of the spike, with people aged 18-49 representing the overwhelming majority of new cases, it said.

Meanwhile, latest figures show the seven-day infection rate in Trafford is up from 19.4 to 35.4, with 84 new cases recorded, the highest rate for Trafford since the end of July when the additional restrictions were imposed.

Council leader Andrew Western had previously argued the lifting of restrictions in the area would be “premature” and the government had ignored the advice of local public health officials.

In a letter to the health secretary, he has accused the government of causing “chaos and confusion” over the easing of lockdown measures in the borough.

Mr Western has called for an “urgent update”, saying “the people of Trafford deserve better.”

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