In a bid to contain the transmission of coronavirus, and to help drive down the number of cases in the town, Warrington’s Public Health leaders are appealing to residents not to visit other households.

Case numbers in Warrington have risen rapidly, and steeply, over the last couple of weeks and residents are being urged to play their part, now, to avoid the risk of the town going into a local lockdown. Confirmed cases in the most recent verified seven-day period are now over 200.

There is clear evidence to show that households are the most likely setting for the virus to spread, so residents should avoid visiting other people at home, including visiting people in private gardens, unless you have formed a household support bubble. People can meet outdoors in open, public spaces as long as they follow the new ‘rule of six’ – that is, a maximum of six people can meet from multiple households, as long as they continue to socially distance themselves from one another. But Warrington residents are being urged not to visit other people at home if they don’t need to – both inside and outside the borough.

This decision will be kept under constant review, but a formal assessment will be made in three weeks’ time, on 5 October.

Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, said: “Our call to ask residents not to visit each other’s households is a strong response, but a necessary one, to help prevent further transmission of the virus. We have seen a very large increase of cases in the town over recent weeks and now is the time to take necessary action.

“As we have seen in other areas that have been under formal local lockdown, such as Greater Manchester, which we border, stopping people from visiting other households indoors is one of the first measures we need to take to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

“We know this is a big ask – but the reality is we have little choice. If we stop visiting other people in their homes and gardens – and continue to maintain excellent hand hygiene, keep our distance, wear face coverings where necessary, and get tested if we develop symptoms – we stand a fighting chance of Warrington not entering a formal local lockdown.”

Households the most likely setting for virus transmission

The council’s Director of Public Health, Thara Raj, said: “Evidence clearly shows that households are the most likely setting for the virus to be passed on to other people, so I would ask residents to observe our new guidance and not visit other people at home.

“You should still be able to meet other people from different households outdoors, as long as you aren’t meeting in private gardens. Please remember to keep your distance from others and not meet in a group any larger than six people.

“It is also clear that if you are in settings where there are people from multiple different households, like restaurants and bars, you are more likely to get the virus. So, whilst you can still go to meet other people in settings like restaurants, please do all you can to keep your distance from people not in your household and follow each venue’s COVID-secure guidance. This is the model currently being enforced in areas where formal local lockdowns are in place such as Greater Manchester, which has seen success in locations like Stockport, for example, which has recently had lockdown restrictions lifted.

“With case numbers on the rise, we cannot afford to be complacent, so please stick to the basics but also do not visit other households if you can help it.”

Get tested – but only if symptomatic

If you have a new, persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of normal taste or smell, you must self-isolate and book a coronavirus test immediately.

There has been an increase in people booking coronavirus tests in recent weeks with demand outstripping capacity. A number of bookings have made by people who aren’t displaying symptoms which is contributing to these pressures. If you are trying to book a test but don’t have symptoms, you could be taking away a test from somebody who is symptomatic.