Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Oldham is 'less than 48 hours' away from 'catastrophic' lockdown

Oldham is just days away from being ordered into a Leicester-style lockdown, its council leader has warned.

The government is set to decide on Thursday whether bars, restaurants and gyms should be ordered to close in the Greater Manchester town.

Oldham has been an area of concern for some weeks and currently records the highest Covid-19 infection rate in England, despite it being among north west areas that had restrictions on social visits introduced on July 31.

However, figures that are expected to be released later today reportedly show that Covid-19 infection rates are dropping in the town, reported The Guardian.

Council leader Sean Fielding said rushing into the decision would be ‘really premature’ and ‘catastrophic’ for the town’s already struggling economy.

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He told The Guardian: ‘Everything that is within our power we are doing, and there is some early evidence that is having an effect on the infection rate.

‘But we do need more time to see if that has really played out. I do think that moving into a local lockdown would be really premature.’

‘The impact of a local lockdown economically on Oldham would be catastrophic and we desperately want to avoid that,’ he added.

Fielding said that closing establishments – and further damaging the economy – would not have much impact on infection rates as the majority of new cases were spread through different households, meaning the move would ‘not be based on evidence’.

He also suggested it would be difficult to isolate the town from other areas it is interconnected with in Greater Manchester and neighbouring West Yorkshire.

The town would be looking at restrictions similar to the ones imposed in Leicester on June 29, which became the first UK city put into a local lockdown.

The comments come just days after Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said that restrictions in some areas in the north west could be eased as early as this week, following a drop in cases.

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