Lots of questions are being asked as Southport, Formby and many other areas in the North West due to see new coronavirus restrictions come into place next week.
Southport and Formby remain very much open for business, with shops, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses remaining open, unlike the lockdown imposed in March.
But there will be new restrictions and changes to what we can and can’t do.
Here are some answers to questions you might have.
What are the new measures?
From Tuesday 22 September:
- Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
- Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
- Late night restriction of operating hours will be introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues having to close between 10pm to 5am.
Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
- Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
- Holidays should be taken only with people from your own household or support bubble
- Residents should not attend amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
Where are the measures being introduced in the North West?
Merseyside and Cheshire:
- St Helens
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Burnley and South Ribble
- West Lancashire
- Ribble Valley
When are the measures being introduced?
Tuesday 22 September
What are the numbers of Covid-19 cases locally?
The figures, for the seven days to September 15, are: (column on the left this week, column on the right last week; first figure cases per 100,000 people, figures in brackets number of new cases).
Liverpool 119.3 (594), 76.5 (381)
Knowsley 117.3 (177), 76.2 (115)
St Helens 99.7 (180), 70.3 (127)
Halton 98.9 (128), 44.0 (57)
Wirral 97.8 (317), 82.4 (267)
Sefton 61.5 (170), 45.6 (126)
South Ribble 46.0 (51), 49.6 (55)
West Lancashire 42.0 (48), 42.9 (49)
Why are the measures being introduced?
These measures will help to address the significant rise in coronavirus cases in the region in recent weeks.
There is an increased risk of transmission the more people who gather together. Data shows an increased rate of transmission in homes, at parties, pubs and restaurants.
The Government is doing everything it can to protect our most vulnerable, keep businesses open and children in school, which these measures will help with.
How long will it last?
It will be monitored closely and reviewed regularly. The next steps will depend on the impact the measures have.
What are the household changes?
You must not meet people who do not live with you or are not part of your support bubble, either indoors or outdoors, unless for the specific purposes mentioned below.
People should only come inside your home for specific purposes:
- where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
- to attend a birth at the mother’s request
- to visit a person who is dying (the visitor can be someone the dying person lives with, a close family member, friend or, if none of those is visiting, anyone else)
- to fulfil a legal obligation
- for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
- for the purposes of education or training
- for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider
- to provide emergency assistance
- to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
- to facilitate a house move
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.
Do these measures affect childcare?
You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
What is a Support Bubble?
A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.
Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.
You should not have multiple bubbles.
Do these measures affect access to education?
No. Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a Covid-secure way. University students must follow the specific guidance and rules set by their university.
Does my child need to wear a face covering at school?
Unless exempt, in education settings where students in Year 7 and above are educated, including middle schools, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and students when moving around in corridors and communal areas.
Parents must wear a face covering when dropping off and picking up children at school, and socially distance from others.
Can I travel outside the area for work or school?
Yes, people living inside and outside of these areas can continue to travel for work or school. Workplaces and schools themselves should also be implementing Covid-secure measures.
Can I go to someone’s house in an area not subject to the restrictions?
You should not visit anyone’s home inside or outside of the restricted area (except for your support bubble).
Can I go to a care home?
Visits by family members to see relatives in care homes in Sefton have been suspended until further notice.
The following visits can continue but will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
- Essential visits by health professionals
- Visits from families and relatives to those residents who are receiving end of life care may continue subject to robust risk assessments.
- Garden visits subject to risk assessments.
- All other non-essential visits and visits by family members into care homes are suspended until further notice.
Sefton Council, along with authorities across Merseyside, is asking care homes to limit interactions with people from outside who may be carrying coronavirus owing to the significant increases in Covid-19 confirmed cases across the region.
Sefton Council has written to care home managers and owners instructing them to limit visits.
To maintain contact with family members the council is encouraging people to keep in touch with their loved one through digital channels such as Zoom or WhatsApp. Sefton says it will support care home staff to facilitate safe contact in this way.
What are the changes for the hospitality venues?
The following must close from 10pm to 5am:
- Bars and restaurants (including hotel dining rooms and members’ clubs)
- Cafes including workplace canteens (but not including cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, prisons, establishments intended for the use of naval, military or air force purposes and for providing food or drink to the homeless)
- Social clubs
- Bingo halls and concert halls
- Amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
- Static/fixed funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks, and adventure parks and activities
During opening hours (5am to 10pm), there should be table service-only, including ordering drinks and food.
As elsewhere in the country, venues must also take details of customers for NHS Test and Trace.
Between 10pm and 5am each day hot food takeaways can only operate a delivery service.
Travelling funfairs are also prohibited.
Can I still go to a hospitality venue, like a pub or restaurant, or meet up outdoors with family and friends there who don’t live with me?
The rule of six applies meaning up to six people from different households can eat or socialise at a table but should be socially distanced. This means that if you are in a group of 6 from different households, you should stay 2 metres from each other.
If this will not be possible you should only visit a pub or a restaurant with members of your own household or social bubble.
Why can I visit the pub but not my relative’s house?
This is because the hospitality industry has enhanced measures, such as risk assessments and test and trace, which private homes don’t have.
Can I go out and party this weekend before the rules come in?
Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones is asking people to show restraint and not to ‘party hard’ before new Coronavirus restrictions are introduced in Sefton.
She said: “Of course, with this news of next week’s further restrictions some people will be tempted to go out over the weekend and celebrate before they kick in but I would urge them not to as they could be putting themselves and their vulnerable relatives at risk.
“As people party more, they tend to become less inhibited and can forget the need for social distancing, mask wearing and frequent and thorough handwashing, all of which are key to preventing the spread of the Covid-19 virus when we’re out and about.
“While those people may be younger, meaning they are probably less likely to be affected badly by Covid-19 and are less worried about the pandemic, the risk is that they could take the virus home to relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal if they are vulnerable or elderly.
“So yes, go out and enjoy the weekend, but please don’t enjoy it so much that you or your family could seriously regret it.
“Our pubs, bars and restaurants will still be open on Wednesday and if we all remember the rules, they can stay that way as we get the infection numbers back down.”
What are the changes to playing sports?
Unless formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation, with guidance issued by a sports governing body, team sports should not take place at an indoor or outdoor venue with people who you don’t live with.
You should not be a spectator at any amateur/semi-professional sports events, for example going to watch your child play football on a Saturday morning.
Can I travel to play sport outside of the areas with restrictions?
Can I go to the gym, gym class or a swimming pool?
Yes, as long as these venues have the required Covid-secure risk assessments and guidelines in place. You should stay 2 metres away from other people.
Can I have someone in my house (or go into someone’s house) to do repairs or other work?
Official / registered tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work purposes as long as you follow national guidance on how to work safely there.
Can I still go on holiday?
You can still go on holiday within the UK or abroad, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with). You need to follow any rules in the area you visit and be aware of the self-isolation rules when travelling to and from certain countries.
People can visit the region on holiday but must comply with the local restrictions.
What about public transport and car sharing?
Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work. Examples of essential travel include: travelling to work, getting essential food or medical supplies, supporting someone who is vulnerable, travelling to and from the homes of others in your support bubble, fulfilling legal obligations, going to an early years or educational setting, or travelling to medical care to avoid illness, injury or harm.
Face coverings must be worn unless exempt. You are advised not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble, and to use public transport for essential journeys instead.
Please note that private hire taxis and hackney cabs are not classed as public transport.
Are the airport, train stations and ports still open?
Can I move home?
What about people who were previously shielding?
People with health conditions and those who were asked to shield are still particularly vulnerable and need to take special care during this worrying period and to be extra cautious and follow the new guidance.
Sefton Council says it is reviewing the measures it has to support vulnerable people, including those who were previously shielding, following today’s announcement that Sefton is among areas which will see new lockdown measures come into place. More here:
What do I do if I see someone breaking the rules?
If an individual is breaching restrictions, you can report it to Merseyside Police by calling 101. The police will assess the circumstances to determine the appropriate action.
Once the legislation is in place, the police or the local authority will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £100 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.
People aged 18 or over will be able to be fined:
- £100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days
- £200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200
What are Sefton Council leaders saying?
Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher: “I know people will be concerned at this news but with infection rates rising in people of all ages across our communities, it is important that we all make every effort to restrict the spread of the virus and these new measures will support that.
“This means not socialising with other people outside of their own households or support bubbles in private homes and gardens.
“It means pubs, bars and restaurants stick to table service only for food and drink and that these establishments, along with cinemas, have to close at 10pm.”