Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed today that some coronavirus restrictions are to be eased in parts of West Yorkshire.
Pools, gyms and sports facilities will be allowed to open from Tuesday across Bradford, where they have been closed since the city, alongside Kirklees and Calderdale, went into local lockdown in July.
Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas will also be permitted to reopen throughout West Yorkshire, from Tuesday.
And Wakefield is due to be removed from Public Health England’s coronavirus watchlist as an area of concern.
Mr Hancock said: “I’m very glad we’ve been able to make this change, working with local councils, because local lockdowns are working to control the virus.
“We are seeing improvements in the rates of infection thanks to the huge efforts made by local communities and authorities working alongside our effective Test and Trace system.
“We must stay alert and I continue to encourage everyone to play their part by following local rules, self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.”
However, despite these changes, the restrictions on household gatherings for parts of Bradford and West Yorkshire, including Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley, will remain in place.
Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “This week the Government have decided that there will be no change in restrictions for the vast majority of people in the Bradford District.
“I’m relieved however that it’s good news that gyms, swimming pools and other sport and leisure businesses can open across the whole district from next Tuesday, rather than only in Shipley constituency and in three wards of Keighley constituency. I know it will be good news for those gym and other fitness business owners.
“Good news today also for casinos and soft play areas that were originally scheduled to re-open on 15 August but were prevented by Government from doing so. These can now reopen too.”
Cllr Hinchcliffe said that the Council continues to be concerned about high infection rates in the district and that the differing arrangements in some wards “confuse the public health message”.
She added: “We’ll continue to support people and provide advice and guidance wherever they are.
“We are focusing on further developing local test and trace as the principal tool to help us bring infection rates down as quickly as possible. The faster those rates fall, the stronger our case for removing restrictions across the whole district will be.”
Leeds was today put on Public Health England’s COVID-19 watchlist as an ‘area of concern’.