by Tom Martin (October 2020)

PUBS, bars and gyms will remain open in West Lancashire after the county avoided being placed in the most severe category of the new ‘Tier’ system created to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Leaders at the county council say they were given a “last minute reprieve” from the government, despite having some of the highest infection rates in the country.

As a result, Lancashire has been placed in Tier 2 of the new Covid-19 alert system and not the strictest Tier 3, which has been handed to neighbouring Liverpool City Region.

Latest government figures show a big jump in the seven-day infection rates across the county including West Lancashire (up from 241.5 to 398.9 per 100,000 people, with 456 new cases).

The new Tier system comes into force today (Wednesday, October 14) and means that – for now – bars and pubs will not be closed in the county, but Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, believes it is “highly likely” that parts or the whole of Lancashire will end up in Tier 3.

Mr Driver said: “The stark truth is that Lancashire has some of the highest infection rates in the country and it is highly likely that more restrictions are on their way.”

Being in Tier 2 means any indoor socialising is banned across Lancashire. That means you can't meet up with anyone you don't live with, whether in your home, a bar or restaurant, or any other social setting – unless they are part of your bubble.

You can meet people outside, in places like parks and beer gardens, but you must abide by the rule of six – and you must keep your distance.

If you’ve got a garden at your home, you can now have people there. If some or all of Lancashire goes into Tier 3, then garden socialising will once again be banned.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health, said: “We have had restrictions on our lives since March and we are all tired, but with infections on the rise it is now more important than ever that we play our part to prevent its spread.

“Lives are at stake here, and it could be the lives of the people closest to you.

“The most important thing you can do when you interact with people you don't live with is to keep your distance.

“Combined with regular handwashing and wearing a mask, this vastly reduces your risk of getting infected or passing it on if you have it.

“I’ve got a simple message – hands, face, space actually works. Please follow it to protect you and those you love.”

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