Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough face tightening of coronavirus restrictions

Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough are the latest areas in England to face a tightening of restrictions in response to rising cases of Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the two cities and town would move into the Tier 2 "high" coronavirus level at one minute past midnight on Saturday.

The change means people living in the affected areas will not be able to mix socially with friends and family indoors in any setting, unless they live with them or have formed a support bubble.

Meet-ups can continue outdoors in Tier 2, but are limited by the rule of six people maximum.

Mr Hancock told the Commons on Thursday: "Unfortunately, we're seeing rising rates of infection in Stoke-on-Trent, in Coventry and in Slough.

"In all of these areas, there are over 100 positive cases per 100,000 people. Cases are doubling around every fortnight and we're seeing a concerning increase of cases among the over-60s."

The Health Secretary also told MPs that Warrington in Cheshire may be moved into the Tier 3 "very high" alert level.

According to calculations by the PA news agency, Staffordshire city Stoke-on-Trent's rate of new cases of Covid-19 was 185.7 per 100,000 people in the seven days to October 17, up from a rate of 113.5 in the seven days to October 10.

In the same time periods, Coventry, in the West Midlands, saw its rate rise from 160.4 new cases per 100,000 people to 180.1, while Slough, in Berkshire, saw its rate increase from 97.0 to 147.8.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it had asked the Health Secretary to place the city of 250,000 people under harsher Tier 2 restrictions.

Council leader Abi Brown said in asking for the tougher measures and not "dithering for a week" she hoped to stem infections and head off "further escalation" to Tier 3 controls.

Earlier on Thursday, Warrington Council leader Russ Bowden said the local authority had started talks with the Government over changing its alert level as local Covid-19 cases were "not decreasing".

Covid-19 restrictions in England
Covid-19 restrictions in England

He said: "I do have concerns about the impact on local businesses and jobs if Warrington goes into Tier 3, and I'm particularly worried for our hospitality sector and those whose businesses are connected to the industry."

Cllr Bowden said discussions with Government had been "honest and realistic" and emphasised that if restrictions increased he would "do all I can to ensure there is an acceptable level of financial support made available for our businesses and their staff".

"This is an absolute priority for me," he said.

"We cannot ignore the stubbornly high case numbers of coronavirus in the town, with more people being admitted to hospital and, distressingly, more people being taken by the virus."

Warrington's rolling rate of new coronavirus cases in the seven days to October 17 was 348.1 per 100,000 people, up from 341.9 in the seven days to October 10.

Elsewhere, talks are reported to be ongoing over the Covid-19 restrictions for Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire.

Leaders in Nottinghamshire were set to enter discussions with the Government on Thursday over a potential move into Tier 3 restrictions.

Nottingham's coronavirus case numbers have started to decline in recent days – with 639.5 cases per 100,000 people reported in the week to October 17, which was the second highest rate in England.

Seven day rate of new Covid-19 cases
Seven day rate of new Covid-19 cases

Cllr David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said he had received an invite to meet with a Government minister on Thursday afternoon alongside county council leader Kay Cutts.

"We will be focused on negotiating a financial support package that will help protect the health of local people, save lives and also the livelihoods of local people and businesses in the city," Cllr Mellen said.

Asked about talks on possible Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "There are talks taking place with West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire today.

"Those talks have been ongoing for a little while."