Tighter coronavirus restrictions have been introduced in Bolton, including only allowing takeaways and curtailing nightlife, after a rise in cases.
The new measures will require all hospitality venues to close between 22:00 BST and 05:00 each day.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the town in Greater Manchester had “the highest case rate in the country.”
He said there were 120 cases per 100,000 in Bolton, which had already been under stricter lockdown measures.
The announcement comes after ministers and government advisers expressed concern over a “sharp rise” in cases across the UK, especially amongst the young.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “Unfortunately, after improving for several weeks, we’ve seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.
“The rise in cases in Bolton is partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s. We know this from contact tracing.
“And through our contact tracing system we’ve identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly.”
The new measures, which come into force immediately, include:
- All hospitality for food and drink (restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs) are now restricted to takeaway only
- Late night restriction of operating hours, meaning all venues, including takeaways, will be required to close from 22:00 to 05:00
- It will become illegal for people to socialise with those outside their own household in any setting, even outdoors
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “This is not something we want to do, but it is clear the virus is currently moving round the borough uncontrolled and so we need to halt the transmission rate.”
Muhammad Memon, 37, who owns Kids World clothing shop in Bolton town centre, said he had real fears about keeping his business afloat in light of the new restrictions.
“Town is empty. Four big retailers have shut down near me since lockdown,” he said. “There is no footfall.”
“I am praying for help from the government,” he added.
As well as restricting hospitality venues, Mr Hancock said visitor limits will also be put in place in care homes in Bolton.
The health secretary said: “I want us to learn the lesson from Spain, America and France – not to have to learn the lesson all over again ourselves through more hospitalisations and more deaths, and take this action locally in Bolton.”
The move comes after plans to ease restrictions in Bolton were scrapped last week following a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Mr Hancock also told MPs that a strict local lockdown in Leicester had resulted in a “very significant” drop in cases, with measures there to be reviewed on Thursday.
It came as Boris Johnson’s official spokesman was asked whether the government was considering a change in guidance on household gatherings across England.
The spokesman said it was being kept under review and that ministers would not hesitate to act if needed.
Guidance in England currently says two households can meet indoors. Outdoors up to six people from different households can meet – or up to 30 people from two households.
A further 2,948 cases across the UK were reported on Monday which, together with a similar figure on Sunday, prompted ministers and scientists to express concern.
The UK government’s chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, said Covid-19 rates are now rising, especially amongst people between the ages of 17 and 29.
He warned that if people stopped social distancing then “Covid comes back”.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van Tam added: “People have relaxed too much. Now is the time for us to re-engage, and to realise that this is a continuing threat to us.”
A further three deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were reported on Monday.
Earlier, Mr Hancock told MPs that a “sharp rise” in coronavirus cases in recent days in the UK was “concerning” and the increase had been across the whole country rather than in localised “hotspots”.
Other parts of the UK are also facing tougher restrictions.
In Wales, the county borough of Caerphilly will be placed under a local lockdown from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, lasting until at least October.
Stricter rules on visiting other people’s homes were also extended to two more areas in the west of Scotland from midnight.
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