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Locking down Oldham would devastate the town's already-crippled economy, three Labour MPs have warned in a letter to Matt Hancock

"Roxana Brownless" (2020-08-20)


Locking down Oldham would devastate the town's already-crippled economy, three Labour MPs have warned in a letter to Matt Hancock.  

Oldham West MP, Jim McMahon, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East, and Labour's new deputy leader Angela Rayner have urged the health secretary to avoid a 'blunt lockdown' that will 'cost more job losses'.

They claim there is 'no evidence' to suggest more people are actually catching the virus and blame climbing infection rates on more widespread testing.  

Despite strict rules banning separate households from meeting indoors last month, Oldham has seen infections double the in the past seven days. Some 107.5 people per 100,000 population are now getting infected with the viral disease every week, latest Public Health England data shows.

Cases are also rising in dozens of boroughs across England, including Swindon, Northampton and the Nottinghamshire district of Newark and Sherwood.

Mr Hancock will decide tomorrow if restrictive measures should be rolled back in the Greater Manchester town, which became the UK's new Covid hotspot this week.

New rules could see the closure of Oldham's bars, restaurants and gyms, which were crippled financially by the initial lockdown and spent months adapting to ensure they were 'Covid secure' and could reopen. 

Writing in the letter, the MPs said: 'A local lockdown doesn't just have the potential to close down businesses, and with that cause almost certain job losses in areas with almost no recent positive test results, but it also dilutes the available resources to fully target areas which are at risk. 

Oldham West MP, Jim McMahon, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East, and Labour's new deputy leader Angela Rayner have urged the health secretary to avoid a 'blunt lockdown' that will 'cost more job losses'

The Government will decide whether to order the closure of the Greater Manchester town's bars, restaurants and gyms on Thursday.

tPSnT.pngGreater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, and Preston are in lockdown

'Any intervention must be targeted, resourced properly and evidence based, all the time ensuring that the approach taken tackles head on any attempt to malign or stigmatise communities; providing clear data with a full understanding of the drivers of spread, and the testing regime being used.' 

Sean Fielding, Oldham's council leader, echoed the comments in the letter, warning the rush back into a lockdown would obliterate the economy.

In an interview with , he suggested that it would be difficult to isolate Oldham from other Manchester towns and neighbouring West Yorkshire, and predicted that a 'premature' move into lockdown would not be 'based on evidence'.

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'The impact of a local lockdown economically on Oldham would be catastrophic and we desperately want to avoid that,' he told the newspaper.  'Everything that is within our power we are doing, and there is some early evidence that is having an effect on the infection rate.

But we do need more time to see if that has really played out. I do think that moving into a local lockdown would be really premature.' He argued 'household transmission' is driving infections in Oldham, most cases are among the working age population and there is little increase in hospital admissions or deaths.
  <div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS news" data-version="2" id="mol-ef1299c0-e20c-11ea-9c82-5bc4ca3d84b8" website lockdown row: Three MPs warn against local lockdown