RESIDENTS in St Helens will face new measures in an attempt to stop the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The new restrictions have been announced by Government and will apply to all council areas across Merseyside after the area was made an area of intervention today, Friday, September 18.

New restrictions will come into force on Tuesday in St Helens and the whole of Merseyside, as well as Warrington, Halton, and Lancashire, excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester.

These are the restrictions that now apply to St Helens, which has the 11th highest weekly infection rate for England. In the seven days to September 14, St Helens saw 185 cases, at a rate of 102.4 per 100,000, up from 118 cases at a rate of 65.3 for the previous seven days.

From Tuesday, September 22 regulations will ban the following:

- People should not socialise with others from outside their household or support bubble inside a home or private garden.

- Hospitality for food and drink will be by table service only.

- Late night restrictions for hospitality will be introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas required to close between 10pm and 5am.

Residents are also urged to follow additional guidance to help limit the growth of the virus:

- Not mix with others from outside their household in a public venue.

- Only use public transport for essential purposes such as travelling to school or work.

- Only go on holiday with your own household or support bubble.

- Residents are advised against attending amateur or semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

These measures are on top of those already introduced by the St Helens Outbreak Management Board on Wednesday which are:

- Parents should wear face coverings when they arrive at the school gates to pick up or drop off their children and not gather in groups of more than six at the school gates.

- Temporarily suspend care home visits.

- Reinforcing the need for staggered drop off/pick up times for schools.

- Reviewing the council’s powers to be able to take action against non-compliance with the current legislation.

In a statement Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Council, said: “Our rate of infection has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent weeks.

"We do not want to find ourselves in a situation like we had in March where our NHS struggled to cope with the demand and far too many people lost loved ones to the virus.

“We therefore understand the need to introduce extra measures to help slow the spread of the virus, and we ask all residents and businesses to play their part in keeping each other safe.

"We know it is difficult as people have just started to enjoy more opportunities to see loved ones again but we have to pull together.

"We saw the remarkable community spirit that got us through the national lockdown and I’m sure that the people of this borough will do just that again.

"#StHelensTogether is still here to support those who need our help should they need to isolate or get help in any way.

“I must say that as a Council we are disappointed that we’ve had a week of rumour and speculation from government rather than clarity and engagement, and it’s not ideal that they have decided to announce these measures on a Friday but not introduce them until Tuesday."

Announcing the measures, the Department for Social Care and Health said action had been taken following close discussions with local leaders, the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), and the Chief Medical Officer for England.

This follows major increases in COVID-19 cases.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton. Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them.

“I know these restrictions will make every-day life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.

“I urge local people to isolate and get a test if you have symptoms, follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace, and always remember ‘hands, face, space’. By sticking to these steps, we will get through this together.”

The changes are in addition to the ‘Rule of six’ which was introduced nationwide on Monday, limiting the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors to six.

This rule is in place across the country and will sit alongside additional restrictions in some local areas.