Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said:
“As positive Covid-19 infection rates in Oldham increased over the past few weeks we have taken every action possible to slow and reverse this trend.
“We have increased testing significantly across all groups, areas and ethnicities. We’re working with the national and regional contact tracing teams to increase completion rates for cases to 90% and contacts to 85%; and we’re being strongly supported by partners in GMP, the NHS, and housing associations to not only support our door-to-door engagement activity but to carry out their own.
“Latest figures show that we had 197 cases over the seven days to 15 August - a rate of 83 per 100,000. This is a slight drop from the highs we saw last week but we are not being complacent. Our rates are still two/three times that of other areas even of Greater Manchester and lockdown is still an imminent threat.
“We strongly believe locking Oldham down or imposing closures to businesses that aren’t evidence-led is not the answer. There is no evidence that closing non-essential retail and/or hospitality would significantly impact the spread of Coronavirus. We have not had a major outbreak linked to hospitality, retail, or other community settings such as places of worship.
“Any closure of non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and other facilities would have a devastating impact on local businesses while simply pushing the social activity elsewhere in the city region. With Manchester City Centre’s shops, bars and restaurants just 3 miles from our borders and facilities like the Trafford Centre still available to residents, we would simply be destroying our local economy whilst possibly pushing the spread of the virus further afield. An Oldham-only lockdown without travel restrictions ignores the human geography of the borough and city region.
“We also believe the threat or imposition of a local lockdown could have a significant impact on community cohesion as we are already seeing a rise in racism and hate crime.
“We need time for our new guidance and messaging to work, and therefore are committed to lowering our positive test rate without a potentially damaging local lockdown being unnecessarily forced upon us.”