Find out what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in areas of the North West of England.
An outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in parts of Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington and Halton. The government and relevant local authorities are acting together to control the spread of the virus.
Restrictions apply to the specified areas below.
Affected local areas
- Pendle (whole area subject to restrictions on household mixing. The following parts have additional guidance in place):
- Clover Hill
- Blackburn with Darwen (all areas of Blackburn and Darwen are currently subject to restrictions. The following parts are already subject to restrictions on care home visits, hospitality venues, and household mixing detailed below):
- Audley & Queen’s Park
- Bastwell & Daisyfield
- Billinge & Beardwood
- Blackburn Central
- Little Harwood & Whitebirk
- Roe Lee
- Shear Brow & Corporation Park
- Wensley Fold
Additional restrictions below will apply to the following areas from 22 September:
- Halton (borough council area)
- Lancashire (county council area, including Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle, and excluding Blackpool)
- Merseyside (county council area)
- Warrington (borough council area)
Business and venue closures
The following businesses and venues must remain closed nationally, including in the affected areas:
- nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
- sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
In the named areas of Blackburn with Darwen with restrictions already in place, we continue to advise that operators of hospitality venues (including restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes) should halt walk-ins, and only seat people who make reservations in advance. You should also take steps to ensure that people do not socialise outside of their households inside and outside your premises.
From 22 September and for all areas affected, hospitality venues must only sell food and drink for consumption on the premises if it is served to customers sitting at a table. They may also sell food and drink for consumption off the premises. Hospitality venues include:
- restaurants, including hotel dining rooms and members’ clubs
- cafes (not including cafes or canteens at workplaces where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace, cafes or canteens at hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons and establishments intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes, or services and for providing food or drink to the homeless)
- bars including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
- social clubs
From 22 September and for all areas affected, the following businesses and venues must close from 22:00 to 05:00 each day (please see below an exemption for food and drink deliveries):
- the hospitality businesses and venues listed above
- amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
- funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities
- bingo halls
- concert halls
From 22 September and for all areas affected, businesses and venues can still sell food and drinks for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22:00 to 05:00 but only for delivery service in response to orders received:
- through a website, or otherwise by online communication
- by telephone, including orders by text message
- by post
Social contact restrictions
The following social contact restrictions currently apply to parts of Blackburn with Darwen, and the whole areas of Pendle and Preston. From 22 September, these restrictions will also apply to Halton, Lancashire (excluding Blackpool), Merseyside, and Warrington.
If you live in one of the affected areas, you must not:
- host people you do not live with in your home or garden, unless they’re in your support bubble
- meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected area, unless they’re in your support bubble
A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis). Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.
People can still come inside your home or garden for specific purposes, set out in law:
- 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
- to fulfil a legal obligation
- for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
- 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
The police are able to take action against those that 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 can 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
The government has also introduced fines for those who hold illegal gatherings of over 30 people. Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is an offence, and police may issue fixed penalty notices of £10,000 to those who break the law.
As of Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6. Further detail can be found in the guidance for meeting others safely, including associated exemptions.
If you live in the affected local areas, you must not meet or host people you do not live with in private homes or gardens unless they are in your support bubble. In addition to these restrictions, we advise that you should not:
- socialise with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any public venue. This applies to inside and outside of the affected areas. Examples of public venues include pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions
- visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances
If you operate a business or organise events within the affected areas you should take steps to ensure people do not socialise with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance.
You should follow all relevant transport guidance when making a journey into, within or out of the affected areas.
You must wear a face covering on public transport and in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs in England (as well as other indoor premises). You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined. Some people do not have to wear a face covering including for age, health, or disability reasons.
You should try not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble. If you need to, try to:
- share the car with the same people each time
- keep to small groups of people at any one time
- open windows for ventilation
- travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
- consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
- clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
- ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering
In the affected local areas, we advise that you should only use public transport for essential reasons. We encourage you to walk or cycle where possible and to plan your journey in advance, avoiding busy times and routes if possible. Examples of essential reasons include:
- to get to and from work
- to get essential food or medical supplies including click and collect services
- to support someone who is vulnerable, if no-one else can do so
- to travel to and from the homes of others in your support bubble
- to attend an early years setting, school or college, or to accompany a child who is attending an early years setting, school or college, where necessary
- to fulfil legal obligations
- to seek medical care, or avoid illness, injury or harm
You can travel outside your area. However, you must not meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected areas, unless they’re in your support bubble. You can still go on holiday outside of the affected areas, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with).
There is separate guidance on what to do if you have booked holiday accommodation in an area with local restrictions.
Team sport and physical activity
You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6. This can be in any public place – indoors or outdoors – but not in a private outdoor space like a garden or inside a private home.
These activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity, and/or involve someone who has received an official licence to use equipment relevant to the activity. In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance.
You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely. See a list of team sports governing bodies which have developed guidance. For all other sports, guidance is available from your governing body and details on how to safely undertake this activity within an organised environment.
Organised dance and exercise classes can take place in groups of more than 6, where a risk assessment has been carried out, but you should limit your social interaction with other participants. The relevant indoor sport facilities guidance or outdoor guidance must be followed for these activities. Organised sport and physical activity events are allowed provided they follow guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England.
From 22 September and for all areas affected, we advise that you should not attend amateur or professional sporting events as a spectator in the areas affected. If you do attend, you must remain socially distanced and groups of no more than 6.
Weddings and funerals
As of Monday 14 September, in line with the new rules across the whole of England, you must not meet in a group of more than 6 people in any location. Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) and other religious or belief-based life-cycle ceremonies are exempt.
There are different rules for attendance at these events across the local affected areas.
In the specified areas of Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle listed above, a maximum of 20 people should attend these events. This should be limited to close family of the people getting married or the person who has died, or people who live(d) or formed a support bubble with them. A close friend should only attend a funeral if there are no household members or immediate families. Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the 20 person limit.
In all other areas of Lancashire, Halton, Merseyside, and Warrington a maximum of 30 people should attend these events.
Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.
These events should comply with the COVID-19 secure guidance and venue capacity. See detailed guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships.
People living outside of these areas can travel to these areas to attend a wedding, civil partnership ceremony or funeral, but they must not meet with another household in a private home or garden.
Religious ceremonies and places of worship
You may attend a mosque, church, synagogue, temple or other place or worship, but you should socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings).
If possible, prayer or religious services should take place outdoors.
If you live in one of the following affected wards in Blackburn with Darwen and you are clinically extremely vulnerable, then you should continue to shield until 5 October:
- Audley & Queen’s Park
- Bastwell & Daisyfield
- Billinge & Beardwood
- Blackburn Central
- Little Harwood & Whitebirk
- Roe Lee
- Shear Brow & Corporation Park
- Wensley Fold
From 5 October formal shielding will be paused in your area. Instead, guidance will be provided locally about how to manage your risk of exposure to the virus. You can see more details on the local authority website.
It’s important that you continue to take precautions after 5 October. Find out more from the general guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people.
Going to work
People living inside and outside of the affected areas can continue to travel in and out for work. Workplaces should implement COVID-19 secure guidance.
Financial support – furlough
Please see guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
NHS Test and Trace Self-Isolation Payments
A new pilot scheme, the NHS Test and Trace Self-Isolation Payment scheme, has been launched for people on low incomes in Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle who have been asked to self-isolate. If you live in one of these areas and have been asked to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you may be eligible to receive payments of up to £182.
These payments are for people who have been asked to self-isolate either because:
- they or another member of their household has tested positive for COVID-19
- they have been identified as the close contact of someone who has tested positive
The payments are to help people who will lose income because they cannot work from home while they self-isolate.
You will be eligible if you meet the following criteria:
- you live in Blackburn with Darwen, or Pendle
- you have received a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking you to stay at home and self-isolate
- you are employed or self-employed
- you are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- you are currently receiving at least one of the following benefits
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credits
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
To confirm you are eligible, your local authority will ask you to provide a bank statement and a notification from NHS Test and Trace showing that you have been asked to self-isolate.
Once your local authority has confirmed you are eligible, you will receive:
- £130 if you have tested positive for coronavirus and must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days (from the point you first developed symptoms)
- £182 if a member of your household has tested positive for coronavirus and you must stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days (from the point they first developed symptoms or, if they did not have any symptoms, from the point they took the test)
- £13 per day (up to a maximum of £182) if you are identified as a non-household contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. This will be for up to 14 days, and the communication from NHS Test and Trace will set out how long you must stay at home and self-isolate
Your local authority will have the right to recoup any money you have been paid if you do not stay at home and self-isolate for the full period you have been told to by NHS Test and Trace.
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 – see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.
Friends or family who do not live with you must not visit your home to help with childcare unless they are part of your support bubble. The only people who should help you with childcare in your home are people you live with, people in your support bubble, or registered childcare providers including nannies.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
Testing (for schools and further education colleagues)
The local authorities for the affected areas of Blackburn with Darwen and the specified areas of Pendle will be undertaking enhanced testing for schools and further education colleges across areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19.
Schools and colleges (face coverings)
In education settings where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and pupils/students when moving around in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. It is not necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
People can move home. Estate and letting agents as well as removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.