Coronavirus: People adapting to new restrictions in Preston | UK News

Coronavirus: People adapting to new restrictions in Preston | UK News

In the first 24 hours of tighter restrictions in Preston it seemed most people, but not all, were buying into the council’s new public health campaign.

Officials are targeting the under-30s who are disproportionately catching and spreading coronavirus in the area.

But in a city centre charity shop three bare-faced twenty-somethings could be seen huddled together for a lunchtime catch up.

While in a nearby nail bar a bored-looking young woman was waiting her turn, sitting a seat apart from other customers, but with her mask perched ineffectively under her nose.

“Don’t Kill Granny” is the stark plea officials hope will change behaviour among the under-30s who make up half the area’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Young people are being blamed for a spike in coronavirus cases in the north of England

The messaging campaign was launched as Preston joined areas already under tighter restrictions across the north in East Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

In all of them, mixing with other households outside a support bubble is banned in houses, gardens and public indoor spaces including pubs and restaurants.

By early Saturday evening, licensing officer PC Julie Stewart was masked up in the city centre with more than two dozen of her Lancashire Constabulary colleagues, tasked with enforcing the new rules.

PC Julie Stewart talks to staff at Preston’s 1842 bar

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On the quiet streets it was not an onerous task, following a similar operation on Friday night that by midnight had resulted in only two arrests for offences unconnected to the pandemic.

Whatever activities are driving the rise in virus transmission in Preston, PC Stewart is convinced it is not pubs and bars.

“As you can see, everybody sits apart, everybody’s friendly,” she said.

“Maybe it’s from house parties, we’ve been to several of those over the past few months.”

Jemma Whewell (left) was out for drinks with her five housemates

In the socially distanced 1842 bar, university student Jemma Whewell, 25, was drinking with five housemates, in accordance with the new regulations.

She blames the local lockdown on the premature relaxation of nationwide restrictions.

“The bans were lifted too soon and now they’ve been taken back, so it makes it a little bit harder for everyone,” she said.

Public health messaging is visible throughout Preston city centre

Jemma Knight, 23, enjoying a drink with her sister Ellie at a table on a cobbled pavement, was broadly supportive of the new rules.

“Maybe it’s questionable what difference there is in meeting in a garden and a park, but I understand that they’ve got to do something,” she said.

Preston’s new restrictions are in place until at least 14 August, with the council warning of potential fines, and threatening further restrictions if the rate continues to climb.

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