Late on Thursday 30 July, the government announced changes to rules on gatherings in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire after increase in COVID-19 cases. Aspects of these new restrictions relevant to law and religion, as described in the subsequent guidance, are summarized below. At the time of writing, only The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/822, which come into force on 1st August were in the public domain.
North West of England: local restrictions – what you can and cannot do
Changes in restrictions [extracts from Guidance]
Does my household include close family members?
Your household – as defined in law – is only the people you live with. If you have formed a support bubble (which must include a single adult household i.e. people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) these can be treated as if they are members of your household.
What will be illegal?
It will be illegal for people who do not live together to meet in a private home or garden, except for limited exceptions to be set out in law. You should not host or visit people you do not live with, unless they are in your support bubble. If you live in the affected areas, you should not visit someone’s home or garden regardless of whether this is in or outside of the restricted area.
Can I still meet indoors with people in my support bubble?
Yes. Where people from single adult households (people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) have formed a support bubble with another household, they can continue to visit each other, stay overnight, and visit other public places as if they were one household.
Can I still meet people outdoors?
In line with the national guidance, you can continue to meet in public outdoor spaces in groups of no more than six people, unless the group includes only people from two households. You cannot meet people you do not live within a private garden.
At all times, you should socially distance from people you do not live with – unless they are in your support bubble.
I live in this area. Can I still meet with my family and friends to celebrate Eid?
Due to higher rates of infection, if you live in this area you should not host or visit friends and family in each other’s homes or gardens. It will shortly be illegal to do so, unless specific exemptions apply. You also should not meet friends and family in other venues – including restaurants or cafes.
Up to two households, or six people from any number of households may meet outdoors (excluding people’s gardens) where there is a lower risk of infection. If you do so, you should still socially distance from those you do not live with, and avoid physical contact.
You may attend a mosque or other place or worship, where Covid-19 Secure guidance applies, but you must 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). We recommend at this time that, if possible, prayer/religious services take place outdoors.
Can I still have my wedding if it’s in the lockdown area?
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies in these areas can still go ahead. No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. Further guidance can be found here.
Large wedding receptions or parties should not currently be taking place and any celebration after the ceremony should follow the broader social distancing guidance of involving no more than two households in any location or, if outdoors, up to six people from different households.
Can I travel outside of the lockdown area to attend a wedding ceremony?
Can I travel into the lockdown area to attend a wedding ceremony?
Yes. Weddings should be limited to no more than 30 people and subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
People living outside the lockdown areas may travel into the areas to attend a wedding, but should not go into a private home or garden.
Can I still visit a place of worship in the lockdown area?
Yes, but you must socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (e.g. face coverings). We recommend at this time that if possible prayer/religious services take place outdoors.
Can funerals still take place in the lockdown areas?
Yes. Funerals should be limited to no more than 30 people and subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
People living outside the lockdown areas may travel into the areas to attend a funeral.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, issued a statement following the announcement made by the Health Secretary (Thursday 30 July 2020) on measures being introduced across Greater Manchester. In this he said:
“…We have gone from a falling rate of cases in nearly all of our boroughs last week to a rising rate in nine out of ten affecting communities across a much wider geography. In Rochdale, the one borough where cases have fallen, they are still too high.
“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…”