Blackpool must not become complacent over the risk posed by coronavirus just because it has escaped new restrictions that are being introduced in every other corner of Lancashire.

That was the message from the town’s public health boss after it emerged  that the resort had been excluded from sweeping new government regulations which will apply in all other districts – including neighbouring Fylde and Wyre.

The rules impose a ban on mixing between households in homes and gardens, require hospitality venues to close between 10pm and 5am and restrict pubs and restaurants to offering a table service.

Residents outside Blackpool are also being strongly advised to avoid using public transport unless it is essential, not to attend professional or amateur sporting events as a spectator and avoid household mixing in public venues.

Blackpool Council’s director of public health, Dr, Arif Rajpura, told the Local Demicracy Reporting Service that the decision to exclude Blackpool from the regulations had been made by the government on the basis of it having lower infection rates than elsewhere in Lancashire.

However, four other council areas had lower Covid case rate numbers at the time of the government announcement on restrictions – and just hours after it was made, Blackpool moved into the top half of the Lancashire case rate table, with positive tests almost doubling in the seven days to 15th September compared to a week earlier.

Sixty-seven cases were identified in that timeframe, giving the town a Covid rate of 48 per 100,000 people.   Fylde has a lower rate, even though it is covered by the new regulations, whilst Blackpool is not.

Speaking before the latest data was published, Dr. Rajpura said that Blackpool needed to stay on its best behaviour.

“We have managed to escape the stricter regulations – so let’s keep it that way.   The only way of doing that is everyone following the rules – and that means businesses, too, which need to be Covid-secure.

“There is no room for any sort of complacency, because this virus hasn’t gone away – so we need to continue to follow the guidelines on social distancing, washing hands, wearing face coverings and abiding by the new rule of six.

“I’m always cautious about these things and it’s quite a delicate situation we are in currently.  We want to protect the NHS and our care services and keep schools open – but we want to keep the economy as open as we can have it at moment.

“Those objectives aren’t exclusive, they are all inter-related,” said Dr. Rajpura.

He warned that a knock to the local economy also risked having a “detrimental impact” on health in the form of rising unemployment.

Meanwhile, people from other parts of Lancashire were advised not to flock to Blackpool, in the hope of escaping restrictions in their own areas.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Crowds in Blackpool at the weekend

Angie Ridgwell, chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, warned residents that the new rules would be enforced based on where they lived – not where they might be travelling.

“You can’t just go across to Blackpool and think the regulations won’t apply to you, because they will do,” she said.

Lancashire Police deputy chief constable Terry Woods said that the force was preparing for increased crowds in the town this weekend, but appealed for people not to have one “last blast”  before the restrictions come into place.

“Going to Blackpool this weekend if you’re not from [there] and mingling in any large crowds – that wouldn’t be looking after your family.

“Make sensible decisions to protect yourselves,   Going to Blackpool in mass numbers is quite the opposite of protecting yourselves,” DCC Woods said.

Dr. Rajpura added:  “People can come to Blackpool, but they need to stick to their household – and while you’re here make sure you are doing all the other things you should be doing as well.”

His counterpart in the Lancashire County Council area, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, said that he thought it would be “a matter of time” before the new restrictions applied across the whole county.

“The impact of rising infections is starting to show up in hospital admissions.   There is generally a two-week gap and we are starting to see that happening.  We also know [the virus] is widespread in communities across Lancashire at high levels,” he said.

Ms. Ridgwell acknowledged that people were “tired” of having to live their lives under the cloud of Covid restrictions, but warned:  “Controlling the virus has to be everyone’s priority, because if we don’t do so, we’re going to see further restrictions and, worse still, we’ll start to see deaths taking place as we head towards the winter.

“We are doing this for your safety and the safety of your families and loved ones,” she added.