By Grahame Anderson

Bradford families have been banned from meeting inside their homes or in gardens following a surge in virus cases.

What this means

It means, members of two different households aren’t allowed to meet in restaurants, pubs and other hospitality related venues. These same places however, will stay open for those visiting individually or from the same household.

The measures announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock also involve Calderdale and Kirklees, along with Greater Manchester and areas of East Lancashire. He said: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.”

Special Powers

Both the police and councils now have the power to ensure people adhere to the rules. Limited exemptions will apply, though the vulnerable will be safeguarded in a move to keep the rest of the country safe.

Speaking on Thursday evening Mr Hancock added: “So, today, I held a meeting of the Government’s Gold Committee and working with local leaders, including, for instance, Andy Burnham the mayor of Greater Manchester, we’ve decided that we need to take action across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.

“So, from midnight tonight (Friday) we are banning households meeting up indoors.”

In more than two thirds of the areas mentioned the rate of infection has dramatically increased. 1,536 cases have been recorded across all these areas in just seven days.

Mayor of Manchester

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the measures, set to be reviewed on a weekly basis. He said: “We have always said that we will remain vigilant and be ready to respond quickly should the need arise. In line with that approach, I have agreed with the Health Secretary that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections.”

The new restrictions around Manchester, includes the local authority areas of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

In East Lancashire Blackburn, Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale are affected.

Reaction In Bradford

Back in Bradford meanwhile the measures haven’t all gone down well with the festival of Eid al Adha in mind. Sofia Buncy, of the Muslim Women in Prison Project, based at Bradford’s Khidmat Centres, tweeted: “Lockdown tightened on the Eve of Eid in Bradford and other northern towns.

“Absolutely no words for those of us trying to manage & deliver consistent community messages & community & faith services. The inadequacy & conflicting guidance is just exhausting.”

MP for Bradford West, Naz Shah said in a statement: “Bradford has the 4th highest infection rate in the country, with the highest rising rate of infection. This is hugely concerning and therefore, people must ensure these measures are followed.”

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley has intimated he didn’t think the restrictions should apply across the whole of the Bradford Council area and wanted some areas exempted.

Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council has said this morning: “Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating today. Yet again our Muslim residents are called on to show great forbearance in these COVID times.”

A statement from the Council has said: “Bradford Council has urged people to heed the additional precautionary measures that the government introduced at midnight on 31 July 2020 for a number of areas in the North West of England and parts of West Yorkshire.

“The measures have been introduced because coronavirus (Covid-19) rates have been rising in parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire.

“Bradford Council and health partners have been working with the government to control the spread of the virus and to prevent a rise in infections.

“The full details of the precautionary measures being introduced are available on the Government’s website.”

Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, says he is seeking urgent answers from Government following last night’s announcement but urges local people to stay safe and follow the new guidance.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift added: “I know that last night’s announcement from the government will be really tough for some people, particularly at such short notice, but I would urge everyone to follow the guidance that we have at the moment so that we keep ourselves and everyone in our communities safe. We are currently seeking further clarification on the guidance.

“But I am confident that Calderdale can get to grips with this. We kept the virus numbers down before in Calderdale before by working together and looking after each other and I know that we can do it again.”

All of the Councils involved will be updating their information throughout Friday