Following the persistent rise in COVID-19 cases across the Liverpool City Region, the Government announced on 1 October 2020 further measures to try to stop the spread of the virus locally.
In Knowsley and the wider City Region, the last few weeks have seen clear evidence of widespread community transmission which is now affecting all age groups.
A number of new measures have been announced, the most notable being that from 00.01 hours on Saturday 3 October 2020, it will be illegal to mix in ANY indoor setting – including pubs and restaurants – with people outside of your household or support bubble.
This is in addition to the rule prohibiting households from mixing within private homes or gardens which came into force last month.
Anyone found to be breaking the rules can be dispersed by police. Those aged over 18 can be fined and could face a £200 charge for their first offence, which would be halved if paid within 14 days. Second offences would incur a £400 fine, which would then double for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
COVID-secure schools and workplaces are not affected by the new rules.
In summary, the new rules and guidance – as presented by Matt Hancock, Minister for Health and Social Care – are:
• The Government recommends against all social mixing between people in different households.
• The Government will bring in regulations to prevent, in law, social mixing between people in different households in all settings except outdoor public spaces, like parks and outdoor hospitality.
• The Government recommends that people should not attend professional or amateur sporting events as spectators.
• The Government recommends that people only visit care homes in exceptional circumstances.
• The Government will be providing guidance against all but essential travel – essential travel includes going to work or school.
The new rules apply to all areas in the Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral) as well as Warrington.
The restrictions will be reviewed every 14 days.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council said: “We know that our case numbers are continuing to rise rapidly and we know that swift action is needed. My concern is that some of the measures outlined by the Government today will not go far enough to get the virus under control.
“I would say to residents that you need to follow the new rules but also take on board the recommendations made – it is clear that the more we limit contact with others, the less opportunity the virus will have to spread any further.”
Your questions answered
What are the new rules?
Socialising between households in any indoor setting, such as pubs and restaurants, is against the law across the Liverpool City Region.
People can only mix indoors with their own households or support bubble.
In other words, you are banned from going for a drink or a meal indoors in a pub, restaurant or cafe with someone who you don’t live with or is not in your support bubble.
The changes are in addition to existing regulations prohibiting households from mixing in private homes and gardens.
COVID-secure schools and workplaces are not affected.
Which areas are affected?
The rules affect the Liverpool City Region – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral – as well as Warrington.
What is the “Rule of Six”?
Any social gatherings of more than six people are against the law.
What are the penalties if I break the new rules?
Anyone found to be breaking the rules can be dispersed by police.
Those aged over 18 can be fined and could face a £200 charge for their first offence, which would be halved if paid within 14 days.
Second offences would incur a £400 fine, which would then double for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Am I allowed to meet other households in pub gardens and outdoor restaurant spaces?
This is not currently illegal. However, the Department of Health and Social Care advises you not to do this.
Can I meet friends and family from outside my household anywhere outdoors?
Again, this is not illegal, but the Government advises people not to meet with anyone outside their household or support bubble in any outdoor setting.
Why is it OK for me to visit the pub but not my parents’ or friends’ houses?
The rules require the hospitality industry to put enhanced measures in place, such as risk assessments, one-way systems and mandatory taking of personal details for testing and tracing. Private homes do not have these measures.
Hospitality businesses also have to close between 10pm and 5am and can only offer table service for food and drinks.
The data suggests that the virus is transmitted more easily in private homes because people are more relaxed in their own homes and less likely to observe social distancing measures.
Who can meet indoors?
Official support groups set up to help people can still meet, including groups helping victims of crime (including domestic abuse), people with addictions, new parents, people caring for others, sexuality and identity support groups, and people who have suffered bereavement.
Can weddings and funerals still take place in Knowsley (and elsewhere in the City Region)?
Yes. The national guidance still stands, so there is a limit of 15 people at weddings and civil partnerships, and 30 at funerals.
Can I use public transport?
On 22 September 2020, guidance was issued that only essential journeys should be taken using public transport such as going to and from school or work.
This guidance remains unchanged.
Remember – if you do travel on public transport, you must wear a face covering.
Can I pick up someone who that I don’t live with in my car?
The Government advice remains that you should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or support bubble.
Can I leave the area to go on holiday?
You can still go on holiday in England or abroad, but again only with people who you live with or are in your bubble.
In England, there are a number of places with additional restrictions, which you must follow.
If you go abroad, be aware of the self-isolation rules involving certain countries.
Can grandparents or close family look after my children when I am at work?
Yes, but there are some limits. Childcare bubbles will be able to form to allow families to share caring responsibilities with another household, as long as they are what the Government has called “consistent”. This includes formal and informal arrangements such as picking up from school.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
Am I allowed to have tradespeople in my house?
Registered tradespeople can go to work in homes as long as they follow national guidance on how to work safely, including social distancing, hand washing, and potentially using screens.
Why have these measures been brought in?
Quite simply, the number of people across the Liverpool City Region with COVID-19 is continuing to rise. COVID-19 is easily transmitted from person to person to any interactions with other people from outside of your household, so such interactions need to be limited to try and stop the spread of the virus. In Knowsley, 86% of confirmed cases have a link to another household, clearly demonstrating that mixing with other households is spreading the virus.
When will the restrictions be lifted?
We don’t know. Data will continue to be reviewed daily. By law, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock “must review the need for restrictions” every 14 days. The law also says that the restrictions will expire after six months, unless a further legal order is made to prolong them.
The full list of local restrictions can be found on the Government’s website.