Birmingham could be forced into lockdown today when ministers meet to discuss plans to combat the city's spiraling Covid-19 outbreak.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to have chaired the Gold Command Meeting this morning with the Council Presidents and Public Health England.
Official figures show that the city of Birmingham's infection rate has more than doubled in the past 14 days. There are around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people – from just 11 in the first week of August.
Council Presidents are desperate to prevent further damage to the already crippled local economy by being hit by tougher lockdown measures such as those in the North West and Leicester.
Oldham – currently the worst-hit location in England with a new infection rate of 70.5 cases per 100,000 people per week – is also said to be on the brink of a major local lockdown that could see restaurants, bars, gyms and shops close.
Labor council chairman Sean Fielding warned it was a "very real threat". Official data shows the city's infection rate dropped 100 last week but has fallen 37 percent since then.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham claimed "there is certainly no case" of granting additional measures to Oldham, which is home to 235,000 people.
He argued it was "clear" that current policies in the region in late July of banning separate households from meeting at home had helped tackle spiraling cases.
And Mr Burnham has asked ministers to exempt Wigan from the tougher measures because his infection rate is still low and has not increased. Three MPs and council presidents have also asked for the city to be liberated.
Government statistics show that Wigan's infection rate – the number of newly diagnosed cases per 100,000 people per week – has risen steadily to 9.4 since the end of July. But it is still below the national average (10.2).
Official figures show that the city of Birmingham's infection rate has more than doubled in the past 14 days. There are around 25 new cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people – from just 11 in the first week of August
Council Presidents are desperate to prevent further damage to the already crippled local economy by being hit by tougher lockdown measures such as those in the North West and Leicester. In the picture an eerily quiet street in the city center of Birmingham
There is hope that Wigan will be exempted from stricter Covid-19 restrictions as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says cases in the community have slowed.
WHICH CITIES ARE ON THE COVID-19 WATCH LIST?
Blackburn with Darwen
Newark and Sherwood
Oadby and Wigston
Infection rate is the number of cases diagnosed in the week ending August 11 for every 100,000 people living in the district – the most recent figures from Public Health England.
Birmingham City Council chairman Ian Ward told the Local Government Chronicle that Mr. Hancock would chair this morning.
He said, "We're trying to avoid local lockdown for obvious reasons – we don't want to harm the local economy." But there are no easy answers.
& # 39; We're talking to the government about a plan for dealing with the top in cases. The difficulty is that there is nothing that we can easily call a cause.
“There's no one big breakout business – although there are a number of small breakout businesses across town. The maximum was six cases in one place. & # 39;
Mr Ward announced that the council will urge the government to provide more walk-in and drivable test centers across the city.
Birmingham is currently not on Public Health England's coronavirus watchlist, which published its list of 29 hotspots last Friday.
Officials announced that Newark and Sherwood, which are home to around 120,000 people, are a "problem area." In the week ending August 11, about 26.3 cases of coronavirus were diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in the district.
For comparison, the agency's weekly infection rate was higher than four areas that were already facing more severe restrictions in the northwest – Stockport (25), Trafford (20.3), Wigan (9.2) and Rossendale (4.2).
Nine counties on the watchlist, including Swindon (44.1) and Northampton (38.6), are not yet affected by a ban on household gatherings.
No further restrictions were imposed on Oldham last week despite fears that tougher measures could hit it. Mr Burnham urged the government not to "overreact" to the surge in some cases and has since called for Wigan to be exempted from the measures.
Speaking at a virtual press conference yesterday, Mr Burnham said, “We are going to go to the government today to say the measures are working and we want them to last in nine of our ten counties with the higher number of cases because of course we have to Lower numbers further.
However, in the case of Wigan, it is clear that I think the measures have had a preventative impact and have stopped the surge we have seen in other parts of Greater Manchester. I think we can say they worked. & # 39;
Mr Burnham agreed with Wigan Council chairman David Molyneux who said it was "unfair to the people of Wigan to continue these restrictions as the number of cases is at a fairly consistent level".
Mr Molyneux said, "I think there is now a very strong case for easing restrictions in Wigan and I am sure the people of Wigan will fully appreciate it."
"I am very satisfied and very proud of the residents, how they reacted in this current situation that we were struggling with."
The Presidencies of the Council wrote to Mr Hancock yesterday asking for the Wigan area to be removed from the Greater Manchester area.
However, the other nine wards still need further review, five admitted.
In Greater Manchester overall, cases have remained stable at around 35 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, data from the virtual press conference shows.
|July 25th||August 1st||Aug-08||15th of August|
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham claimed "there is certainly no case" of granting additional measures to Oldham, which is home to 235,000 people
MPS WARN LOCKDOWN WOULD & # 39; DESTROY OLDHAM'S ECONOMY & # 39;
Oldham's lockdown would destroy the city's already crippled economy, three Labor MPs and Manchester city councilors warned in a letter to Matt Hancock.
Oldham West MP Jim McMahon, Debbie Abrahams MP from Oldham East, and Angela Rayner, the new Labor Vice-Chairwoman, have urged the Health Secretary to avoid a “blunt lockdown” that will “cost more job losses”.
In the letter, MPs wrote: “Not only does a local lockdown have the potential to shut down businesses, causing almost certain job losses in areas where there have been almost no positive test results recently, but it also dilutes the available resources of vulnerable areas fully address.
“Any intervention needs to be targeted, adequately resourced, and evidence-based to ensure that the approach addresses any attempt to defame or stigmatize communities. Provide clear data with a thorough understanding of the drivers of propagation and the test regime used. "
But Bury, Manchester City, Salford and Trafford saw spikes in the week leading up to August 15 despite tougher Covid-19 measures.
Wigan's infection rate rose from 7.3 to 9.4 in the past week, higher than in late July when she was 7 years old.
Oldham tops the list with an infection rate of 83.1 per 100,000 as it is close to a full lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out a local lockdown, despite requests from local officials to avoid "knee-jerk" decisions and "overreaction".
Speaking to ITV News yesterday, Mr. Hancock said, "No, we are not ruling out anything like that, either in Oldham or anywhere else in the country."
A government spokesman said it was unlikely to see any announcement of local lockdowns today.
The approach has been consistently pushed back, which Burnham said wasn't right for Oldham, even if it was for Leicester.
During the virtual press conference last night, Mr Burnham said he had written to Mr Hancock and that there was "no case" to impose further restrictions on Oldham.
The letter, co-signed by three Labor MPs, requests an additional two-week deadline to allow enough time for local action to continue.
"We think we can say with credibility that the strategy is working," said Burnham.
& # 39; It's very focused, proportionate, and we believe the point is to keep doing what we do to see if we can then get another decline in the days to come.
OLDHAM LOCKDOWN WOULD & # 39; TENSIONS & # 39;
A return to full lockdown restrictions in Oldham would "fuel" community tensions, the council chair warned.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Council Chairman Sean Fielding said that a major concern about the introduction of lockdown measures was its "social cohesion" impact.
"There are examples of people in communities blaming other communities to justify their own failure to comply with the restrictions," he said.
“We had house parties in different parts of the district. We are up against several companies that are not in the central areas of Oldham.
“We have a particularly high incidence of cases in central Oldham areas and there are more people from the South Asian community living in those areas.
“But even in these communities there is high levels of poverty, high levels of cramped and overcrowded housing, and high levels of people working in publicly accessible professions that have never been closed because they were important workers.
"It's pretty crude and imprecise to call it an ethnic problem. There are many more underlying factors."
So today there is certainly no case of imposing any further restrictions on Oldham beyond the prohibition of home social gatherings. & # 39;
Oldham Council chairman Sean Fielding said a full lockdown was "a very real threat to Oldham" based on communications with the government.
He said, “We have heard from the government that this is really being considered.
& # 39; So, it's very real. It is a very real threat to Oldham, make no mistake at all, but we are strongly opposed for all of the reasons I have outlined today. & # 39;
He added: “It is almost a frustration that the plans that we want to continue implementing in order to lower the infection rate as we need them are not fully utilized because we have so much time spent arguing with the government and others about how we oppose local bans and we think this is wrong. & # 39;
Mr. Fielding told reporters thClosing bars, restaurants and shops would not make a “measurable difference” to the spread of Covid-19 because The vast majority of new cases spread between households.
"It doesn't come from people who go to non-essential stores and pick it up when they buy a t-shirt in a previously closed store or have a beer in the pub," he said.
"Closing non-essential businesses in Oldham wouldn't change that, it wouldn't solve this problem," he said, warning that the economy was "fragile" and had not recovered from the national blockade.
"A further shutdown of the economy would be catastrophic for us and so we are resolutely opposed," he told reporters.
Even so, Mr Fielding and several MPs who are in favor of keeping Oldham open say there is "no evidence" to suggest that more people have contracted the virus in recent weeks and blame the rising infection rates more common tests.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Fielding said a local lockdown was an "early" move and not "evidence-based".
He claimed it was very difficult to quarantine Oldham from the area as the city was "fully and completely connected to other parts of Manchester".
LOCKDOWN RULES: WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO
affected areas: Preston, Greater Manchester (City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford), Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leicester.
You must not: Meet people who you do not live with in a private household or garden, unless you have formed a support bubble (or other exceptions provided by law).
Visit someone else's home or garden, even if they live outside the affected areas.
You should not: Meet with people you don't live with in other indoor public spaces – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centers, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions.
Punish: Fines starting at £ 100 and halving to £ 50 when paid in the first 14 days, but doubling for later violations.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO THE RULES AFFECT?
Greater Manchester (including the city of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford): 2,835,686
Blackburn with Darwen: 149.696
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