A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester as coronavirus infection rates surge across “multiple localities”.
There have been particularly big spikes in Covid-19 cases in Manchester and Tameside and an ongoing steady rise in Oldham.
Meetings of senior police, local authorities and other agencies have been taking place over the weekend.
It comes after the Government announced on Thursday that different households in areas of east Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester would no longer be able to meet indoors amid fears in the rising number of cases.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority were quick to clarify that these measures have not changed and the declaration of a major incident is “no more than a boost to our capabilities”.
Infection rates for the week to Thursday show cases per 100,000 people still rising in every part of the conurbation, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, chairman of the Local Resilience Forum, said the Strategic Coordination Group had met this weekend to discuss regulations in response to the new restrictions announced on Thursday.
He said: “Recognising that there are multiple localities across Greater Manchester seeing rises in infection rates, the group reviewed learning from other recent areas, including Leicester, and its own learning from across the partnership and have taken the decision to declare this a major incident in order to respond as effectively as possible.
“This will enable us to maximise the capability of agencies across Greater Manchester, including additional resources if required, to instigate a prompt and positive change in direction.
“It is part of our desire to protect the population of Greater Manchester and provide them with the highest levels of assurance that agencies are doing all they can to reduce infection rates and bring Greater Manchester back to as near a state of normality as current times allow.”
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “The public should be reassured that the guidelines announced by Government on Thursday remain unchanged.
“This move by Greater Manchester’s Strategic Coordination Group is simply to enable our public agencies to access any additional resources they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“This is no more than a boost to our capabilities at what is a challenging time for people in our city-region. It is absolutely appropriate for us to maximise our resources in the drive to reverse the spike in infection which we have witnessed in the last seven to 10 days.
“The more we stick to the new guidelines and drive the R rate down, the quicker they will be removed. Please do not visit someone else’s home or garden unless you have formed a support bubble.
“Do not meet outdoors in groups of more than six. Please wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible. Let’s not act selfishly and instead keep the health of our loved ones and neighbours in mind at all times.”