LONDON (Reuters) – Britain put more of northwest England into the highest COVID alert level on Friday in the face of rising case numbers as Prime Minister Boris Johnson bids to contain a second wave of infections through local measures.
Johnson will hold a news conference on the pandemic after the restrictions were announced for Lancashire but as other northern leaders resist extra lockdown measures without more financial support.
From Saturday, Lancashire will face the toughest restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of pubs.
Cases have surged in the region that is home to towns such as Burnley, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston, forcing Lancashire into the very high alert level of Tier 3, along with nearby Liverpool and Merseyside.
As a second wave of the pandemic mounts, Johnson’s government has pursued a tiered approach to shut down local regions with surging cases, in the hope it can allow the least-affected areas to remain open to protect the economy.
That has sparked anger by some local leaders in northern England like Greater Manchester, who say the government has not offered enough financial support to businesses which are having to close.
On Friday, more data suggested that England was still seeing a sharp rise in cases. The Office for National Statistics’ Infection Survey said there was an average of 27,900 new cases per day in the latest week.
The ONS said there had been a 50% increase in infections compared to the previous week and that infections in the North West continued to grow while cases in the North East were levelling off.
While infections in England are still rising sharply, the survey did imply a slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus compared to the previous week, which was backed up by an estimated growth rate of the pandemic published by the government.