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Britain puts Lancashire into highest COVID alert tier

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Britain put the area of Lancashire in northwest England into the highest COVID alert level on Friday, meaning it will face the toughest restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of pubs.

Cases have grown rapidly in the region that is home to towns such as Burnley, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston, forcing Lancashire into the very high alert level of Tier 3, along with nearby Liverpool and Merseyside.

Under the terms agreed between the national government in Westminster and local officials, pubs will close unless they are selling substantial food and people have been told not to socialise with anybody indoors that they do not live with.

The change will come into force on Saturday and from Monday betting shops, casinos, bingo halls and soft play areas for children must also close.

As a second wave of the pandemic mounts, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has pursued a tiered approach to shut down local regions with surging cases in the hope it can allow the least affected areas to remain open to protect the economy.

That has sparked anger by some local leaders in northern England who say the government has not offered enough financial support to businesses which are having to close.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden

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