Coronavirus: Lancashire moved into highest level of COVID restrictions

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Bars and pubs across Lancashire will close after local leaders agreed the county should move into Tier 3 of England's lockdown system.

It means towns such as Blackpool, Blackburn and Fleetwood join the Liverpool City Region in the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

The government has confirmed the restrictions will come into place from midnight.

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A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "Following close discussions with local leaders, Lancashire will move from Local COVID Alert Level High to Very High from 00.01 on Saturday 17 October."

Under the rules, people are banned from socialising with other households both indoors and in private gardens, while bars and pubs are closed unless they can operate as restaurants only.

The "rule of six" applies outdoors and overnight stays are banned.

In addition, the government said that from Monday October 19 casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, and soft play areas must close. Car boot sales are also not permitted.

There was no mention of gyms being asked to close.

Talks between Westminster and local leaders in Lancashire about financial support ran into the evening on Thursday, after speculation the county may be locked down.

Yesterday, several major areas moved up to Tier 2 - including London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash, Chesterfield, and York.

Southend and Thurrock in Essex are not included in the new measures because they are unitary authorities.

Tier 2 restrictions mean people cannot meet other households socially indoors - whether at home or at other venues such as pubs.

The "rule of six" still applies in outdoor settings - as it does all over the country, and people are advised to "reduce the number of journeys where possible".

Meanwhile, leaders in Greater Manchester have "unanimously opposed" being put into Tier 3, amid a bitter political row with Westminster.

A call between Greater Manchester leaders and Downing Street officials failed to reach an agreement on new coronavirus rules on Thursday.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said there are no further discussions with Westminster scheduled for today.