PEOPLE in Barrow will be banned from mixing with other households indoors after the borough was placed in the ‘high alert’ tier of Covid-19 restrictions.

From Saturday, people in the area must abide by the Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in an escalation from the previous ‘medium’ alert level announced on Monday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Barrow was one of eight places in the country where urgent action was needed to arrest the spiralling rate of new infections, doubling every fortnight.

The latest infection rate data shows Barrow with 292 cases per 100,000, compared with the England average of 160.

The change means it will be illegal to meet indoors with people outside of your own household or bubble.

Outdoors, the Rule of Six remains unchanged.

The announcement was welcomed by political leaders in the area, who urged people to comply.

Members of the Barrow Area Outbreak Board had asked the Government for tighter restrictions last week.

Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Council, said: “The number of infections has continued to grow across Barrow since the request for action from the Government was made last week.

“We are in an extremely concerning situation. Coronavirus is a deadly virus and lives are at stake.

“It’s crucial that every one of us follows the rules to limit its spread and to protect our loved ones, families, friends, neighbours and communities.”

Stewart Young, the leader of Cumbria County Council and chairman of the Area Outbreak Board, said: “This is the right decision and ideally would have come sooner. The infection rate in Barrow is continuing to rise and it is so important that people follow the new rules which are coming into force.

“There is an opportunity now to get a grip on the spread of the virus, if we do not then we’ll no doubt see a further increase in the risk level and even more restrictive local lockdown measures.

“I’d urge everyone to take steps to protect themselves, their families and the community.”

The new restrictions will be reviewed after 14 days.

Announcing the decision in the Commons, Mr Hancock said: “I know that those measures are not easy, but I also know that they are vital.

“Responding to this unprecedented pandemic requires difficult choices—some of the most difficult choices that any Government have had to make in peacetime.

“We make these decisions with a heavy heart, and with the sole aim of steering our nation through troubled waters.

“Things will get worse before they get better, but I know that there are brighter skies and calmer seas ahead—that the ingenuity of science will find a way through.

“Until then, we must come together, because we all have a part to play in defeating this dreadful disease.”

Matt Saunders, consultant in public health at Cumbria County Council, backed calls to follow the new rules.

“If everyone follows the new rules it can make a difference, preventing further disruption, illness and deaths,” he said.

“But we all have to act now and take responsible and sensible steps to reduce the risk of spreading or catching Covid-19.

“The new rules are very clear, but generally any steps people can take to limit their social contact and mixing with others, alongside wearing masks in enclosed public spaces, and outdoors if it’s busy, and washing hands regularly will have an impact.”

Cumbria Police’s assistant chief constable Andrew Slattery warned that anyone who deliberately breached the new restrictions would be hit with a fixed penalty fine.