Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been slammed over yet another Covid-19 U-turn, this time over lifting lockdown restrictions in Bolton and Trafford – where cases have been increasing.
Mr Hancock claimed the restrictions in both areas will remain in place following a ‘significant change’ in infection rates in both areas.
The government had planned to lift restrictions today, but local councils complained, fearful of a major spike in Covid-19.
Baffled locals in Trafford and Bolton criticised the confusion, with some believing the government has been too quick to reduce the lockdown measures.
One Trafford resident told MailOnline that while he is desperate to see his parents, he does not want to risk infecting them with Covid-19.
Labour’s mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, left, has said local councils should take control of the Covid-19 Track and Trace system, hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a U-turn in lifting lock down restrictions in Bolton and Trafford
People in Bolton Town Centre, pictured today, woke up believing their Covid -19 restrictions had been eased, however, at lunchtime Mr Hancock implemented a U-turn
Twitter user Jane Bowyer tried to take a humorous view of the inconsistent messaging
It had been planned that people from two different households could once again meet up in a private garden from today. However, new testing figures prompted a more cautious approach.
Local people expressed confusion over the rules currently in place because of the mixed messaging coming from Number 10.
Ben Parker, 22, from Trafford, told MailOnline: ‘I’m kind of in two minds I think because we have family in Wales that we’ve been trying to go back for ages and we’ve had to cancel a couple of times so I certainly think, obviously I want to see my parents but I want them to be safe at the same time so I don’t know.
‘We used to go into Manchester quite a lot on days off of work, but we don’t do that anymore we don’t use transport we just stay in Sale obviously because of COVID and stuff. I’ll probably see my mum and that’s about it.
‘I think with the whole not just the local but also the national lockdown I think it all should have been extended really because if they’re talking about a wave two and stuff then it was obviously too early. Whatever we’re informed to do we’ll do I suppose.’
One woman criticised people in Bolton who were seen on ITV news not wearing masks properly
John Johnstone blamed people having raves, parties and social contact for the Covid-19 spike
Ben Parker, 22, said the Covid lockdown has prevented him from going out as often and is afraid of a second surge
Anne, 30, said: ‘I think it’s a little bit too I would say but we’ll see how it goes. I just don’t think people are taking it seriously with the facemasks and the gatherings and going to the pub all of that so I think it’s a little bit too soon.
‘I’m not going out I’m staying away from clubs I just go to the shop because I have to and I’m going to work that’s it. I’m staying very much away from all the pubs and cafes and all of that.
‘I work in a restaurant in town. I take the tram every day. I think people should definitely wear masks you see a lot of people that don’t and when they started eat out to help out you could see a lot of people that were drunk and they were definitely not using masks so that’s not good. You’re putting everyone at risk.
‘They’re ignoring it already so it’s not like it’s going to make a big difference so it is what it is, it’s very hard to like you look everywhere and people are wearing facemasks but they use it wrong so it’s a little bit pointless the whole exercise of staying locked for three months because the country is still how it is.’
Betty, 72, said: ‘I think it’s far too soon I’m very concerned about the fact that the numbers are rising and the fact that the local authority and the public health in Trafford were very much against it and they were overruled.
‘I absolutely won’t be planning to do anything.
‘I think Andy Burnham is absolutely right it’s very confusing, very confusing people on opposite sides of the street offering different rules.’
Locals in Sale, Trafford, pictured today, complained about the mixed messages coming from government
BOLTON’S INFECTION RATE: 18.2 per 100,000 people in week ending July 31; 31.2 per 100,000 people in week ending August 7; 25.6 per 100,000 people in week ending August 14; 18.4 per 100,000 people in week ending August 21; 44.9 per 100,000 people in week ending August 28; 56.4 per 100,000 people on September 1
Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham said councils should have more control over the Track and Trace system.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, he said: ‘We don’t want these regulations in place for the long-term.
‘We’ve got to plan an exit strategy and we’ve got to move from blanket regulations, which are a blunt instrument that affect everybody, to a much more sophisticated, targeted approach – door-to-door teams doing the testing and the tracing.
‘Throughout this crisis, we’ve had a “Whitehall knows best” mentality at play and it continues.
Covid-19 rules in Bolton and Trafford
Residents are asked to stay at home as much as possible.
Anyone who can, should work from home.
Those who cannot, should limit their contact with other people as much as possible.
They are also requested to wear a mask in public places and wash their hands regularly.
People should remain at least two metres apart from people who are not in their household.
Residents are banned from meeting people from other households whether it is indoors or even in a private garden.
‘It really isn’t good enough when the front line is very much with us now – we need to be empowered to take the decisions to protect our communities rather than constantly waiting for Government to get its act together.
‘I’m very clear about what we need: local control of Test and Trace with door-to-door teams – in Oldham, that is what got their numbers down and that is what we need across all of Greater Manchester.
‘We need financial support for people to self-isolate, particularly people on low wages or who are self-employed – that is critical because we are just not seeing people comply with the national Test and Trace system.’
Tory MP Chris Green said better communication was needed from the Department of Health when it came to changing local lockdown arrangements.
It comes after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in Bolton and Trafford was reversed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock only hours before they were due to change following a ‘significant change’ in infection rates in both areas.
The Bolton West and Atherton MP told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘Communications haven’t been as effective as we would like so it has been difficult, but we now know where we are.’
He added: ‘I think the department is very clear as to my view on the importance of communication.
‘Better communication and also timely communication to make sure everyone who ought to be in the know, do know, because we want local councillors, the council leaders and MPs, the mayor of Greater Manchester, we want all the players locally to be able to communicate effectively with local residents because with so many different variants going around the country and things changing all the time we need this information to be broadcast effectively.’
In Bolton, the local Covid-19 infection rate has jumped to 56.4 cases per 100,000.
The man spike is between people from different households aged between 18 and 49.
Bolton City Council leader Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: ‘It is with a heavy heart that the cabinet and officer team have come to this decision and this will be incredibly disappointing for both residents and business owners.
Andi Ali expressed his sorrow for workers in the region affected by the ongoing lockdown
This anonymous account said the people of Bolton and Trafford show look at their own behaviour before ‘taking a pop at the government’
‘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 rate stands at 56.4 per 100,000 which makes us a key area of concern within the UK. We need to take this seriously and follow the regulations.’
Bolton’s director of Public Health, Dr Helen Lowey repeated her advice to stopping the spread of the virus.
She said: ‘When the request was made last week, Covid-19 cases were being managed in the community and rates were steadily falling.
‘In a short space of time, that rate has jumped from 18.4 to 56.4. This highlights how quickly the virus spreads and the importance of following the regulations closely.
‘Do not meet up with people you do not live with either inside or in a private garden. Maintain social distancing, wash your hand regularly and wear a face covering when required.’
A spokeswoman for Trafford Council said: ‘We know that many residents and businesses were looking forward to taking advantage of the relaxation of restrictions but we are in this together and it is important we stick to to the guidance to bring the rates down again.’