General

Why us? Wigan residents speak of frustration at being included in local lockdown

Written by

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/us-wigan-residents-speak-frustration-18698345

On the streets of Wigan there is a sense of bewilderment.

Following Thursday’s shock local lockdown announcement, people living in the borough are no longer allowed to meet people from other households inside a private home or garden or socialise with them in other indoor public venues

The new restrictions, which apply to the whole of Greater Manchester, as well as other parts of the north, came following a spike in coronavirus cases across the region.

Wigan currently has the lowest infection rate of all ten Greater Manchester boroughs, with 7.6 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending July 28.

Yet the new restrictions will apply to all of the borough’s residents, from Ashton-in-Makerfield to Standish.

Sharon Moses
(Image: M.E.N.)

On a scorching hot Friday afternoon in Ashton-in-Makerfield, more than 16 miles from Manchester city centre, there is a clear feeling of frustration at being included in the lockdown.

“It is unfair that we are included in this,” said Sharon Moses, who lives in nearby Lowton.

“We are a long way from the areas of Greater Manchester with high infections. I have a Wigan phone number and pay my rates to Wigan Council.

“The people who have been doing things by the rules are being penalised.

“If you can go to the pub then why can’t you have family round?”

After months of lockdown, the recent easing of restrictions has allowed Ms Moses to spend time with her family, including her grandchildren, aged two and eight months.

Now, she will no longer be able to do so.

“It’s frustrating,” said Moses.

“The eight-month-old has changed a lot during lockdown.

“She has grown up from a baby who I used to give milk to, to someone who is crawling around.”

Under the new restrictions, people are also no longer allowed to visit restaurants, bars or pubs with members from outside their own household or support bubble.

Emma O’Mara owns The Old Band House, a stylish tapas restaurant in Ashton-in-Makerfield town centre.

Since the shock announcement was made on Thursday, she has already had to deal with a wave of cancellations.

Gerard Street, in Ashton-in-Makerfield town centre
(Image: M.E.N.)

“It feels like we have taken 10 steps forward and 15 back,” the 28-year-old said.

“When we reopened, we noticed an increase in customers. We thought we were getting somewhere.

“Now we can do less than we could in the first place.”

Ms O’Mara only opened the bar three months before the UK was plunged into lockdown back in March.

After closing for a few weeks, the restaurant started running a takeaway service.

Profits were low, but it was a way of keeping their name out there.

Ms O’Mara admits she finds the new restrictions ‘confusing’, as well as the government’s advice that business owners ‘should take steps to ensure people do not interact with people they do not live with’.

“How are we meant to police something like that?” she said.

“We have already got enough on our plate as a small business. We are supporting the track and trace and adjust to the guidelines.

“I think it is unfair. We have a lower infection rate than other areas.”

Wigan is included in the local lockdown despite having the lowest number of cases in Greater Manchester
(Image: MEN)

Coun Michael Winstanley, who represents Orrell ward on Wigan Council, said he was ‘bewildered’ that the borough was now under local lockdown.

Orrell shares a border with St Helens, which has the lowest number of cases in the North West with just two positive infections recorded in the past week, as well as parts of West Lancashire.

Neither of those areas have been included in the local lockdown.

That, coupled with the fact Wigan itself has far less cases than areas such as Oldham and Trafford, means the announcement has largely been greeted with a mix of shock and frustration.

“To say it came as a total surprise is an understatement,” said the Conservative councillor.

“There have been a number of incidences of infections on the rise in other boroughs of Greater Mancester, but I expected measures would be put in place in those areas.

“I don’t think including Wigan in this is the right decision.

“Greater Manchester is not one homogeneous zone. There are many facets and make-ups. To treat us as one group demonstrates the problems this is going to cause.

“No one wants a second spike, but we need to be more nuanced and targeted in the way we apply these local lockdowns.”

About the author

Leave a Comment