A ‘smaller Christmas’ urged as Preston coronavirus rate rises but South Ribble falls

Christmas lights in Friargate in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall
Christmas lights in Friargate in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston’s latest coronavirus cases were confirmed during a day of the government’s Christmas restrictions unravelling in confusion.





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The city, and Lancashire, will also wait another 24-hours for a decision about whether there will be any change to the tier-3 restrictions status.

New coronavirus cases recorded in Preston during Wednesday (16 December) were at 55 new cases.

South Ribble recorded 29 new cases for the same day.

Wyre saw 17 new cases, Ribble Valley was up by 33 and Fylde recorded 14 new cases.

Preston’s current coronavirus rate is 226.4 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to Saturday (12 December), up from 205.4 for the seven days to December 5.

See the latest coronavirus cases and information near you

South Ribble has now dropped below the average for England.

The borough has an average of 174.2 cases per 100,000 people, down from 179.2, for the same date period as Preston.

The England average is 205.7 and Ribble Valley’s infection rate is now 220.1, up from 146.2.

Wyre and Fylde have the two lowest infection rates in Lancashire, with 125.8 and 113.9 respectively. Both areas have seen very small week-on-week rises.

Read more: Map shows the latest local coronavirus cases in each area of Preston and South Ribble

Christmas confusion – Prime Minister updates on festive restrictions

The government has said it is not changing the Christmas restrictions but urged a ‘smaller, safer Christmas’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to address the nation at a press conference during Wednesday afternoon after the four nations joint restrictions agreement unravelled.

Wales and Scotland announced changes to the households although England has kept to the original rule around relaxing restrictions between 23-27 December and allowing up to three households to meet indoors.

The Prime Minister said the three households, and five days, were ‘maximums, not a target to aim for’.

He suggested elderly relatives should be avoided until they have been vaccinated and said people should avoid overnight stays where possible.

Mr Johnson also said travel between areas of high infection rates to places with low infection rates was not encouraged.

Mr Johnson said: “While it would not be right, we think, to criminalise people who have made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones, we’re collectively – across the UK governments at every level – asking you to think hard, and in detail about the days ahead.”

He said the laws were remaining the same but “a smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas”.

He added: “Have yourselves a merry little Christmas – and I’m afraid this year I do mean little.”

You can see the full press conference below

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The government had faced increased calls from scientists and medical chiefs to either scrap the Christmas restrictions relaxation entirely or shortern it due to concerns about the rise in Covid-19 infection rates and deaths since the end of the second national lockdown in England and the end of the fire-break lockdown in Wales.

Read more: Family doctors start Covid-19 vaccinations in Preston

What of the tier-3 or tier-2 decision?

Preston and Lancashire were also made to wait a further 24-hours for a decision on whether there would be any movement into tier-2 restrictions.

Health secretary Matt Hancock is due to set out any changes to the tiers during Thursday (17 December).

It is understood Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire will not see any change in tier restrictions, currently in tier-3, despite lobbying by MPs and council leaders.

Preston City Council’s leader councillor Matthew Brown had said it was ‘unlikely’ there would be any change in restrictions for Preston before Christmas.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

What did you make of the Christmas restrictions? What tier do you think Preston and Lancashire will be in? Let us know in the comments below

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