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Lancashire to be handed more ‘test and trace’ roles in tier-three coronavirus deal

Posted on - 16th October, 2020 - 2:07pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, Politics, Preston News
County Hall is currently drawing up its proposals for how to save hundreds of millions a year
County Hall in Preston city centre Pic: thepracticalsurveyor

Lancashire will start to take control of more of the test and trace system, under the new tier-three measures.

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A support package, understood to be worth £42m, has been secured by Lancashire’s leaders in response to the county moving to tier-three coronavirus restrictions.

New restrictions, coming into force, from 00.01 on Saturday (17 October) mean non-food pubs and bars are being forced to close.

Lancashire appears to have won a concession on gym and leisure centres – which will remain open – in contrast to the Liverpool City Region’s tier-three restrictions.

A spokesperson for the county council said: “The decision is accompanied by a support package for Lancashire to help minimise the impact on Lancashire’s businesses and residents.

“New, local arrangements and funding will also be introduced for test and trace to give Lancashire more control of the contact tracing process.”

Additional restrictions for Lancashire also come into play on Monday (19 October) with licensed clubs, adult gaming centres, bingo halls, casinos, bookmakers, betting shops and children’s soft play centres forced to close. Car boot sales are also to be stopped.

Read more: These are the full tier-three restrictions for Preston and Lancashire

And university’s in Preston, and Lancashire, are to be asked to move to remote learning where possible.

What does the county’s leader have to say?

Councillor Geoff Driver Pic: Lancashire County Council
Councillor Geoff Driver Pic: Lancashire County Council

County council leader Geoff Driver said: “Across Lancashire, the coronavirus situation is serious and getting worse. Lancashire’s leaders all agree that, as we approach winter, urgent action has to be taken now to ensure the county is not overwhelmed by the virus.

“After major negotiations with government, we have agreed a bespoke deal for Lancashire that means our businesses and residents will receive extra support that will not be available elsewhere in the country.

“I want to thank all of the Lancashire leaders for the constructive and meaningful discussions we have had over the past week. The deal has presented real challenges for some and they have only been able to sign up with reluctance, but we have been willing to work across party lines so that we can hammer this out with government.

“These new restrictions will affect us all, but we know they will be particularly harsh on those who make their living in our hospitality sector. It is a vital and valued part of our economy and we are all committed to maximising the support we can give as a result of this deal.”

Read more: Political leaders clash over tier-three Lancashire negotiations

Health bosses make joint plea

Preston, and Lancashire, are in the top 30 areas of infection rates for Covid-19 in England at present.

Public health directors for Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool have appealed for the public to stick to the new rules.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Professor Dominic Harrison and Dr Arif Rajpura said: “We are at a very dangerous phase of the pandemic. Infection rates are going up across Lancashire, hospitals are getting busier and people are quite frankly sick of coronavirus and just want life to return to normal.

“That’s something we all want, but we have to level with you – it isn’t happening any time soon. All of our lives have been affected by coronavirus and will continue to be so until we have a vaccine. Now that Lancashire has entered tier three the next month is critical to getting the virus under control.

“In the meantime, as public health professionals we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect the people of Lancashire and we are working night and day to do so. But you also have a role to play as well to protect yourself, your family and your community. By sticking to the restrictions – even though we know it’s hard – and following the simple guidance around hands, face and space you will help limit the spread of coronavirus.”

See the latest coronavirus cases and information in your area

Police prepare to enforce new rules

Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “It’s imperative that we all work together and follow the rules so that the restrictions will be eased sooner.

“None of us want to be in this situation but abiding now will help us bring the infection rates down and safe lives. We’ve taken a common-sense approach to policing the regulations throughout the pandemic and this will not change.”

“Our first priority is to engage with people and explain the rules, but we do want to be clear that we will enforce them where we need to, especially around repeat offenders, significant gatherings and people who deliberately flout the regulations and put others at risk.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you make of the tier-three move? What do you think of the comments from Cllr Driver, health chiefs and the police? Let us know in the comments below

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