Tier 4 for ALL of Lancashire from 31st December
All of Lancashire will move into Tier 4 Covid restrictions from New Year's Eve.
The move was confirmed in the House of Commons just after 3pm.
It means the issuing of a stay at home order across the county - except for work where it cannot be done from home, education, essential shopping, medical reasons and other limited purposes. Non-essential retailers are forced to close under Tier 4.
Having been marginally above the average England case rate the last time the tiers were reviewed, Lancashire is now significantly below it – with 242.5 cases per 100,000 people in the week to 25th December, compared to 402.6 across England in the week to 24th December.
However, the Lancashire rate has risen since in the middle of the month and 10 out of 14 council areas now have higher rates than a fortnight ago, with only slight falls in Blackpool, Preston, South Ribble and Rossendale.
Meanwhile, parts of the east of the county have seen significant spikes – including Burnley, currently the worst affected part of Lancashire, where the figure now stands at 465.6.
The case rate in the over 60s has also risen county-wide, although that, too, is now below the England average. However, it stands at over 200 per 100,000 of the population in half of the county's council areas and above 300 in Blackburn and Burnley.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has seen internal NHS data showing that the number of patients in hospital with Covid across Lancashire and South Cumbria stood at just below 650 as of 24th December. That is slightly down from just below 700 in the first half of the month.
An accompanying report noted that critical care capacity in the region was, as of Christmas Eve, "sufficient" and being monitored daily. However, it also cautioned that there was a "realistic possibility" that admission rates will increase due to growing Covid incidence rates and also as a result of the household mixing allowed in Tier 3 areas like Lancashire on Christmas Day.
The document also revealed that there was a relative increase in Covid-related death registrations on 23rd December, within an increase in all registered deaths. That was the first "significant increase" in death registrations since mid-November.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council's director of public health, said in response to the Tier 4 announcement that a "critical point" had been reached in the pandemic.
He added: "I would urge everyone to play their part to stop the spread.
"The restrictions in Tier 4 will mean even more disruption to people's lives - and I know that this decision will bring hardship to many.
"However it is vital we get the virus under control and bring down the number of people being infected and having to be admitted to hospital.
"Tragically, we are still seeing many people lose their lives as a result of this virus.
"There is hope. Already, hundreds of people in Lancashire have been vaccinated and today's announcement about another type of vaccine is very welcome.
"I would really urge people to stick to the rules. Everyone can minimise their chances of catching Covid 19, including the new strain, by fully sticking to the guidance.
"Please follow the simple advice of washing your hands, wearing a face mask and keeping a safe space between yourself and other people," Dr. Karunanithi added.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
These are the full Tier 4 rules, according to gov.uk
If you live in Tier 4 you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. A reasonable excuse includes:
Work and volunteering
You can leave home for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home, including if your job involves working in other people’s homes. You can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
You can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services from a business which is permitted to open in your Tier 4 area, but you should stay local. For instance you can leave home to buy food or medicine, or to collect any items – including food or drink – ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money (for example, from a bank or post office), or to access critical public services (see section below).
Fulfilling legal obligations
You may also leave home to fulfil legal obligations, or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
Education and childcare
You can leave home for education related to the formal curriculum or training, registered childcare, under-18 sport and physical activity, and supervised activities for children that are necessary to allow parents/carers to work, seek work, or undertake education or training. Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
Meeting others and care
You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children aged 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked after child.
Exercise and recreation
People can also exercise outdoors or visit some public outdoor places, such as parks, the countryside accessible to the public, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities. You can continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in a public outdoor place with your household, support bubble, or with one other person if you maintain social distancing. You should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.
Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits
You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies, to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse),or for animal welfare reasons – such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
If you are planning to visit, or accompany someone to, a care home, hospice, hospital or other healthcare setting, you should check that this is permitted by the facility.
Communal worship and life events
You can leave home to attend or visit:
a place of worship for communal worship
a funeral or event related to a death
a burial ground or a remembrance garden
a wedding ceremony
However, weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend (see below).
Meeting others safely
In general, you must not meet socially or carry out any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.
You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (for example, wearing a face covering).
You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
You can exercise or visit a public outdoor place:
with the people you live with
with your support bubble
or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household
Children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit.
Public outdoor places include:
parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
the grounds of a heritage site
outdoor sports courts and facilities
You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.
You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.
Support and childcare bubbles
There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles across all tiers. You can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:
you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living without any adults
you live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
you live with a child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
you live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, who has a disability and requires continuous care
You may need to change your support bubble if your circumstances change. Find out more about changing your support bubble.
You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.