Stoke-on-Trent residents will be banned from mixing with other households indoors – when the city becomes a tier two ‘high alert’ area.
Tier two restrictions mean people are not allowed to socialise indoors with people outside their household or support bubble. This includes both homes and public settings, such as pubs and restaurants.
Outdoor socialising will still be limited to groups of no more than six people. And the new restrictions do not apply to work or education.
The change in alert status is expected to come into effect on Friday, October 23, but Mr Hanock will confirm the exact time.
Leaders at Stoke-on-Trent City Council asked to be moved into tier two following a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions in the last week.
The city has an infection rate of 210.2 cases per 100,000 population for the seven days up to October 19 – a jump of 24.5 from the previous day’s figure.
The number of coronvairus patients at the Royal Stoke University Hospital has also increased sharply to 90 over the last fortnight.
While Stoke-on-Trent is being upgraded to tier two, the rest of Staffordshire will remain at tier one, or ‘medium alert’, for now meaning no new restrictions will apply – potentially causing confusion in areas such as Basford which straddle the border.
With Cheshire East remaining in tier two, Newcastle borough will be sandwiched between two high alert areas.
City council leader Abi Brown says she wrote to Mr Hancock earlier this week requesting for Stoke-on-Trent to be moved into tier two. She believes bringing in new restrictions now could help the city avoid more draconian measures in the future.
Mrs Brown said: “By acting now, we can hope to stem this increase, limiting the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and – above all – avoiding further escalation into ‘very high’.
“Taking this approach now will limit the damage to our local economy of a potential future move to the ‘very high’ category.
“Swift decisive early action to quickly reduce the spread of coronavirus will reduce pressure on the NHS, prevent more unnecessary deaths, and the huge economic harm of the full lockdown we are seeing elsewhere.
“I’m not willing to put the lives of Stoke-on-Trent residents at risk by dithering for a week when we can act now to save lives and minimise economic damage.
Want a free daily bulletin which includes all the latest Covid-19 news – plus breaking news alerts direct to your inbox? Then sign up to our email newsletter service by clicking here.
Want to know more before you sign up? Click here.
Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.
“Following ongoing discussions with public health colleagues and using the extensive data at our fingertips, we have taken the decision to apply to the government to move into the high level.
“I would like to thank our communities for everything they have done to try to contain the virus – we have done well to come this far without intervention. We hope that by acting decisively now, we will avoid further intervention later.”
The move to tier two is expected to put further pressure on the already struggling hospitality sector.
Mrs Brown said that while the council would be urging everyone to abide by the new restrictions, she wanted to encourage people to support local businesses.
She added: “We will be stepping up our public information campaign over the next couple of weeks to remind people what they can and can’t do now that we’re moving into a higher tier. We’re particularly concerned about half-term coming up when there might be more potential for household to household contact.
“But if there was ever a time for people to support local businesses, now is that time. The new restrictions do not mean you cannot go out for a meal, and that is something I am planning to do with my family.”
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “The pandemic has not gone away. It is very easily transmitted and put simply, it kills people and leaves others struggling to recover months later. We know people may be tired of hearing the messages over and over but they are more important than ever now. Keep washing your hands, wear a face covering, limit your social contact and self-isolate if you have Covid-19 symptoms.
“Our data suggests too many people with symptoms are not staying at home when they should be. This could have a deadly impact on older and more vulnerable loved ones, so please keep them safe by following the guidelines. Limiting our contact with our family and friends is hard, but it is important because the more contact we have, the more likely the virus will spread.”