IN my recent columns I’ve written about how the borough has been performing well in the fight against coronavirus with numbers falling and restrictions being eased with the opening of shops and pubs.

However last Thursday we faced a stark reminder that the virus hasn’t disappeared and still poses a real risk as tighter restrictions were re-imposed across the whole of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.

The epidemiological evidence is suggesting through contact tracing that this is not due to the reopening of pubs, shops or places of worship but is predominantly down to socialising taking place in a private setting, with social distancing advice being ignored.

With the new restrictions socialising outside of your immediate household is no longer permitted in private settings which includes households, gardens and hospitality venues with the aim to reduce inter-household transmission of the virus.

It is important to note that this is not a return to lockdown as cafes, pubs and places of worship remain open. However we do need to remain vigilant in order to maintain the virus. A greater emphasis on washing hands, wearing face coverings and maintaining a two metre distance from others outside of your household.

With many people across the region feeling that this was a return to lockdown, the number of cancelled reservations and drop in numbers visiting hospitality venues has been high which poses a further risk to a sector that has been struggling since reopening.

The evidence suggests that providing the socialising restrictions are maintained that visiting a pub, café or bar is still safe and I would strongly urge residents to do so to support our local businesses during these difficult times.

I fully appreciate that the communication and timing of this announcement was far from ideal and have raised the matter with both the Health Secretary and Prime Minister. Since then, I have been advised that the restrictions will be reviewed on a weekly and borough by borough basis allowing areas of Greater Manchester to lift restrictions sooner than others.

Whilst I am reassured by the relatively low number of cases in Bury with no new cases being reported on August 2, I continue to raise the concerns of constituents to both the council (who made the decision to include Bury in these restrictions) and to ministers to lift these restrictions from the borough at the earliest chance.