No change to restrictions banning residents in some West Yorkshire areas from visiting each other indoors

Restrictions banning people in some parts of West Yorkshire from visiting friends and family due to a spike in coronavirus will remain in place without any changes, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Mr Hancock said today that the data showed transmission rates were not yet low enough in Bradford, Kirklees, and Calderdale, to allow the rules to be eased.

The move will disappoint Tory MPs who had lobbied Mr Hancock to take a more granular approach and release parts of their constituencies where cases had been low from restrictions.

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Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley, said he was “disappointed Colne and Holme valleys and Lindley, with virtually no new cases, are still subject to restrictions for the next seven days but I’m really hopeful that if we still have no new cases we’ll get positive news next week.”

Mark Eastwood, MP for Dewsbury, added he was also disappointed. He said: "The quickest way to exit restrictions is for everyone to continue abiding by guidelines. I will continue to make the case for action to be more targeted and localised."

But Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said he had not expected any changes to take place.

He said: "Our rates are stable which puts us in a stronger and different position to many other authorities. However, this does not mean we can be complacent and take our eye off the ball, we must still exercise great caution and be vigilant.

“We will continue with our targeted approach to bring infections down and get our freedoms back. I know how difficult a sacrifice this has been – and will continue to be – for everyone. I’d like to thank you all for following the guidance and keeping each other safe. If we continue to do this together, we will see these restrictions lifted.”

A Covid-19 testing centre at Bradford University in West Yorkshire, one of the areas where new measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Stricter rules have been introduced for people in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire, banning members of different households from meeting each other indoors. Photo: PA

Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council, added: “We understand how challenging this is for local people. We are all missing our families, friends and social lives. But we still have a very serious risk of Covid-19 in our communities, with infection rates sadly increasing. We must all pull together and keep doing everything we can to protect each other. It’s the best way to beat this terrible disease, so that we can get back to safely enjoying our usual social activities again as soon as possible."

The rules on social gatherings will also continue in parts of the North West and Leicester, with Preston added to the list also.

The measures were announced last week to urgently tackle an increase in Covid-19 cases in these areas.

It means visits outside of a support bubble cannot be held indoors or in private gardens, but people are still able to meet others in groups up to six, or two households, in outdoor public places.

The restrictions will be reviewed again on August 14.

Mr Hancock said: “The past week has been difficult for many people in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, and I thank everyone in these areas for their patience and willingness to follow the rules.

“Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee, and unfortunately, the data does not yet show a decrease in the transmission of this terrible virus. It means we must keep the current restrictions in place to allow more time for the impact of this ban on indoor gatherings to be felt, and make sure local residents and their loved ones are protected. At the request of the local area we are also extending these restrictions to Preston.

“We are constantly examining the data on the prevalence of the virus in these areas, and we will review the measures again next week.

“As we continue to see rising rates of the virus across Europe, it is vital we take every precaution to protect our country. I urge everyone in these areas to follow the rules, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to.”

In Bradford, pools, indoor gyms and other leisure facilities will also stay shut.

While Rotherham has been taken off the list of locations where cases were higher than the average.