Covid measures in Halton’s schools, council buildings and venues will not be lifted on so-called ‘freedom day’, borough leaders have confirmed.

Monday will see the vast majority of restrictions lifted by the Government across the country, with masks no longer being a legal requirement and businesses such as night clubs being allowed to open for the first time since March last year.

Capacity limits will also be removed from most events and venues. The one metre distancing rule will be scrapped and there will no longer be any limits on how many people can meet.

But rising infection rates in Halton has prompted the council to retain Covid safety measures in its own buildings and venues including leisure centres, libraries, one stop shops and Widnes Market for at least the next few weeks.

This means:

  • Anyone visiting council venues will be encouraged to continue wearing face coverings.
  • Schools will be advised to continue with current arrangements - including class bubbles and face coverings - until the end of the summer term.
  • Measures currently in place in care homes will remain.

But because the legal aspect of the restrictions will have been lifted by the Government on Monday, from that point the council will only be able to 'strongly encourage' adherance to its measures, not enforce them.

The authority said the current rate of infection is 360 per 100,000 population. while admissions to local hospitals are also increasing. It said vaccination uptake is ‘good’ but the borough has not reached a point where enough of the population has been fully vaccinated. Halton also remains listed as an Enhanced Response Area.

The council added that it plans to review the measures on August 12.

Council leader Mike Wharton, said: “Halton’s approach is a careful one based on our local circumstances.

“The shift from legal restrictions to advice and personal responsibility presents us all with new challenges as we navigate what ‘living with Covid-19’ means for us in our personal and our working lives.

“But the council will continue to do all it can to support our workforce and our community as we take these next tentative steps together towards normality.

“And we are asking residents to continue your efforts in being strong, kind and safe. Get fully vaccinated and continue as much as possible with the use of face coverings, social distancing, good hand hygiene and regular testing.”