It has been five days since lockdown measures were tightened in parts of northern England to stop an increase in the spread of coronavirus.
The new restrictions were announced late on Thursday night following a spike in cases of Covid-19 in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
Although the local lockdown began on Friday, rules only came into force at midnight making it illegal for people from different households to meet in a private home or garden. Those who flout the law face fines of £100 rising to a maximum of £3,200.
So, after a weekend under the new measures, are people in Greater Manchester respecting or ignoring the new restrictions? And is it clear who you can meet in a beer garden but not in your back garden?
Coral McKeown, 44, is a guardian carer for her grandsons in Collyhurst.
“I feel the new lockdown rules are pointless and are way too late,” she said.
“I have no clue on what we can and can’t do – it’s not clear at all.
“This weekend was spent in Southport with my husband and two young grandsons. I don’t wear a mask and wasn’t asked to, or made to feel uncomfortable for not wearing one.”
Abbie Chadd, 35, an education consultant in South Manchester, said the rules are “so unclear and somewhat conflicting”.
“I was gutted to see the new restrictions put in place but I fully understand the need to prevent the further spread of the virus.
“Having visited the same park nearly every day since the start of lockdown, this weekend it was by far the busiest it has been throughout.
“People were clearly trying to adhere to the guidelines about being outside of their homes when meeting others, but I am not sure how this situation is better than small groups meeting in private gardens.”
Joshua Lacey, 25, a box office team leader, believes the measures act as a “deterrent” but “with no clear outcome or goal”.
“We’ve been told we can not go round to another household or garden, but it is still fine to come into contact with numerous households either at the pub or restaurant.
“I do think that restaurants and pubs are more regulated and kept to higher hygiene standards, so in those terms these places could be seen as a lower risk and I understand that people have to get back to work as those industries have been heavily hit.
“I had plans to visit family and friends in another area, but had to stay home instead.
“I think people are ignoring the new regulations. People feel safer going round to friends and families as they are a more known and controlled environment.”
What is the law from 5 August?
- No gatherings in private dwellings of two or more people within the protected area
- Someone living in the protected area cannot meet anyone else inside a private dwelling outside the area
- Both of these apply only if the people are from different households or protective bubbles
- Attending someone giving birth, at their request
- Visiting if they “reasonably believe” someone is dying as long as they are a close family member or a close friend (or anyone if the dying person has no close family or friends)
- Fulfilling legal obligations
- Necessary for work, volunteering, education, registered childcare
- Providing emergency assistance or avoiding injury
- Moving house
- Continue access to children with separated parents
A dwelling does not include hotels, hostels, care homes and children’s homes.
Speaking on Radio Manchester on Friday, mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said he understands the rules can feel “contradictory”.
“The pub is a more regulated environment and there are procedures in place to handle customers,” he said.
“At home, I don’t think the same level of discipline is applied.”
Michael Perrett, 32, who is a musician in Fallowfield, said the restrictions are “wishy-washy”.
“I think they are vague enough for people and businesses to ignore.
“It’s also engendered a kind of ‘sinking ship mania’ in people who think that it could be a step towards another full lockdown… so people are filling their boots while they can.
“I was working at the weekend. I didn’t go to the pub but I know people who did.”
The parents of Helen Drummond, 54, live in Didsbury. They are aged in their eighties and she delivers their weekly shop.
“We’re all so disappointed that I’m going back to leaving bags at their front door.
“Yes, it’s horrible and inconvenient, but I’m a secondary school teacher and they both have underlying health problems.
“What alternative is there in reality? We’re hoping others will follow the rules too – to protect everyone.”