Economically-crippling and socially-constraining local lockdowns are failing to curb coronavirus outbreaks, analysis shows.
More than 17million Britons in 48 towns, cities and boroughs are currently living with even more limited freedoms than the rest of the country.
Many have been barred from meeting friends or family indoors and university students in the locked-down areas are practically confined to their halls of residence.
Residents in these places have been told the rules are essential to suppress the virus, but data shows that Luton is the only area in England which has successfully managed to drive down cases far enough for the draconian rules to be lifted.
However, there are fears the Bedfordshire town could be slapped with restrictions once again after cases rose by a third in the last week, from 26 per 100,000 to 35.5 per 100,000.
Stockport and Wigan also managed to break free from the shackles of local lockdowns but had measures reimposed on Friday after infections rebounded. The other 46 regions in lockdown are all recording rises in infections, according to the latest Government data.
Bolton is still Britain’s Covid-19 hotspot after suffering more than 200 cases per 100,000 in the last week. Cases have more than tripled in the last three weeks, despite the Greater Manchester town going into a local lockdown earlier this month.
The data is worrying because it implies the nationwide measures announced last week – including the ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew – do little to stop coronavirus’s spread, at the expense of restricting people’s freedoms and harming the economy.
Bolton is still Britain’s Covid-19 hotspot after suffering more than 200 cases per 100,000 in the last week. Other areas of Britain hit by local lockdowns have also seen infections continue to rise, despite having had tougher measures imposed
Residents in these places have been told the rules are essential to suppress the virus, but data shows that Luton is the only area in England which has successfully managed to drive down cases far enough for the draconian rules to be lifted
Cases have more than tripled in Bolton in the last three weeks despite the Greater Manchester town going into a local lockdown earlier this month
Leicester – which was the first in the UK to be put in a local lockdown in July – recorded 94 cases per 100,000 in the week ending September 25, up from 37 the previous seven days
Salford recorded a 70 per cent spike in infections in the last week, with cases rising from 79 per 100,000 to 127
Public Health England figures show Luton’s cases are on the rise again despite having only just emerged from a local lockdown in recent weeks.
The town, which relaxed measures banning people from meeting indoors and in private gardens earlier this month, saw cases rise by 35 per cent between September 18 and September 25.
There are now concerns that Luton will follow in the footsteps of Stockport and Wigan and see even more restrictive measures introduced.
If this becomes the case, it will mean not a single town, city or borough in England will have successfully turned around a Covid-19 outbreak with the help of a local lockdown.
Experts say it raises questions about whether the juice is really worth the squeeze, as local businesses go bust and people are forced to go weeks without seeing their loved ones due to the targeted measures.
Aberdeen is the only other place in the UK to have local lockdown restrictions lifted without being reimposed. The Scottish city saw bars, cafes and restaurants shut on 5 August after a spike in Covid-19 cases linked to the city’s nightlife.
But restrictions were fully lifted on September 3 after three weeks. The infection rate is now around 8 per 100,000 – down from 32 at the start of August.
Manchester Mayor says 10pm curfew is doing ‘more harm than good’
Boris Johnson‘s 10pm coronavirus curfew is doing ‘more harm than good’ the mayor one of the UK’s biggest cities warned this morning – as weekend scenes showed kicked-out drinkers dancing to a brass band in the street.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the government’s drinking deadline was pushing crowds into supermarkets to buy booze to drink on the curbs or in homes.
He warned the curfew was acting as an incentive for behavior which was the opposite of what the measures were aiming to achieve.
The former Labour leadership contender said: ‘I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country. My gut feeling, is that this curfew is doing more harm than good.’
It came as scores of drinkers were spotted in trendy Moseley, Birmingham, on Saturday night twirling around to a brass bands, despite restrictions urging social distancing.
The city is also currently under heavier lockdown rules than much of the UK with people banned from mixing with people they do not live with.
West Midlands Police were alerted to the potentially dangerous breach and spoke to people to tell them to go home.
The PM’s curfew – which he announced last week – has been widely panned due to these predicable consequences.
One Tory MP texted Politico: ‘Which clown-faced moron thought it would be a good idea to kick thousands of p***** people out from the pubs into the street and onto the tube at the same time?
‘It’s like some sort of sick experiment to see if you can incubate a second wave.’
Of the places still in localised shut downs, Newcastle suffered one of the largest increases in Covid-19 cases in the country this week.
The city saw cases triple in the last week, rising from 53 per 100,000 to 157 per 100,000 in the week ending September 25 – despite having a local lockdown introduced on September 17. Separate data also shows fewer tests were carried out, suggesting the spike isn’t down to more swabs being conducted.
South Tyneside, which was hit with the same measures in the North East a week ago, saw more than doubled from 74 per 100,000 to 178 per 100,000.
Wigan, which only just broke free of local lockdown restrictions this month – suffered a tripling in cases over the last seven days – with number rising from 40 per 100,000 to 102 per 100,000.
Halton – where residents have been locked down since September 18 – also saw infections rise three-fold, from 61.5 per 100,000 to 160 per 100,000.
Bury, in Greater Manchester, saw infections more than double from 75 per 100,000 to 157,000 in the same recording period.
Salford recorded a 70 per cent spike in infections in the last week, with cases rising from 79 per 100,000 to 127.
The Wirral and Rochdale saw an almost identical increase of 59 per cent week-on-week – suffering 121 and 124 cases per 100,000 on September 25, respectively.
Meanwhile, the likes of Bolton and Blackburn continue to have the worst case rates in Britain, despite living with draconian curbs for weeks.
Bolton tops the Covid-19 hotspot charts, with 201 infections per 100,000 recorded in the last full week of data, which was published on September 25.
Blackburn, which has consistently ranked among the worst three Covid-19 infection rate in the country, suffered 167 cases per 100,000 last week.
Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told The Telegraph: ‘I have to agree that local measures are often having disappointing results. The same in Glasgow and surrounding areas.
‘National lockdown using the same control measures would very likely have the same poor result. In my view all this shows that much more community testing is needed to identify cases and that contact tracing isn’t yet good enough.’
Professor Robert Dingwall, a sociologist at Nottingham Trent University, told the newspaper the figures do not give him confidence the national measures will be successful in driving down the virus’s transmission.
He added: ‘Since March, we should have been giving the evaluation of social interventions as much attention as we have been giving to evaluating therapies or vaccines. The rumoured ban on households meeting has no better basis of evidence beyond the desire to be seen to do something.’
Official data shows that local lockdowns appear to have short term benefits which slowly fade over time.
Leicester, for example, had a local lockdown announced by the Government on June 30 when there were 140 cases per 100,000 people in a week – the highest in the country at the time.
Shops, restaurants and bars were banned from reopening just as the rest of the country started to emerge from the national shutdown.
Cases were squashed to below 50 per 100,000 by the end of July, which allowed restrictions to slowly be lifted in August.
Infections continued to fall until early September when the city recorded its lowest ever weekly case rate, of 24.5 per 100,000.
But by last week they had jumped back to 94 per 100,000, prompting ministers to introduce even stricter measures preventing people from mixing with people outwith their own homes.
Similarly many areas in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire – which were hit with lockdown rules on July 31 – saw restrictions loosened at the start of September, only to have them reimposed 16 days later.
Salford, Tameside, Rochdale and the city of Manchester have seen no relaxation of restrictions since they were imposed at the end of July after numbers never dropped off.