BANS on people meeting indoors in parts of the north west will remain - the Government has announced.

The current ban on indoor gatherings in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester will remain in place for at least another week.

Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas will remain closed despite them being allowed to open elsewhere in England from Saturday.

The rates in Warrington remain below the average for the north west despite a spike in recent days which has seen health bosses in the town call for a redoubling of efforts.

A spokesman said: "The latest evidence does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area, and the Health Secretary, in collaboration with local leaders, has agreed that the rules must remain in place at present. This will help protect local residents, and allow more time for the changes to have an effect, cutting transmission among households.

"The latest data also shows a continued rise in cases in Oldham and Pendle while numbers remain high in Blackburn with Darwen. Local leaders are now setting up an enhanced incident team to try and bring infection rates under control, with support offered from the government. Progress will be assessed throughout the weekend and early next week."

Minister for Health Edward Argar said: “I’d like to thank everyone in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester for their continued patience in following these vital rules put in place to tackle the spread of the disease – I know it hasn’t been easy.

“We will review the measures again next week as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring of the latest data.

“It is essential we all remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in these areas to continue to follow the rules - wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to.”

The ban on indoor gathering continues to apply to:

• Greater Manchester: City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford

• Lancashire: Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Preston

• West Yorkshire: Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees

• Leicester

People in these areas will continue to not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubble) within private homes or gardens. ]

People are still able to meet others in groups up to six individuals, or two households, in outdoor public places.

Pools, indoor gyms and other leisure facilities as well as nail bars, spas and beauty salons will continue to remain closed in Bradford and Blackburn and Leicester. Shielding will also continue for individuals in Blackburn with Darwen, and Leicester City.

The national easing of restrictions planned tomorrow around the reopening of venues including casinos, bowling alleys and conference halls will not apply to Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire or Leicester. 

PHE’s weekly surveillance report includes changes to the watch list of Local Authority areas with higher than average incidences of COVID-19.

The changes are: • Newark and Sherwood added as ‘Areas of Concern’

• Eden is being removed thanks to a drop in cases.