BURY Council is prepared to use its powers to enforce new restrictions aimed to reduce the transmission of coronavirus, the chief executive has said.

The new restrictions, affecting Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, which came into force on Friday, prevents people from different households meeting indoors in the borough of Bury and beyond.

This includes pubs, restaurants and cafes – although members of different households are allowed to meet in outdoor seating areas in groups of no more than six, unless the group includes people from only two households.

Geoff Little, the council’s chief executive, was asked how the local authority will enforce the new rules and support businesses to implement them.

He said: “The council does have enforcement powers and along with Greater Manchester Police, we are prepared to use them. Clearly, there are issue about compliance. We will take action if necessary.”

However, speaking at the strategic commissioning board meeting on Monday, Mr Little said that the authorities must first make sure rules are understood.

This comes after councillors talked of “mass confusion” following the announcement of new restrictions on Thursday night via social media.

Critical of the government, Cllr Alan Quinn named several pubs in Prestwich which he claimed were not adhering to social distancing measures on Friday.

He said: “People I talk to just say we don’t know what the rules are anymore.

“Greater Manchester and Yorkshire have been locked into a lockdown and everybody’s having a jolly old time on Bournemouth beach.

“There’s mass confusion out there. Nobody knows what’s going on. If you stop a person in the street they would say they don’t know the what the rules are.”

Mr Little agreed that there is confusion about the rules, but said that the council is doing its “level best” to simplify them for everyone in the borough.

He said that the local authority is looking at publishing further communication following its initial engagement with Bury stakeholders, people and businesses to explain the changes on Thursday night and Friday morning.

But he the chief executive said the council is “supportive” of the restrictions.

He added: “Overall, the borough was progressing well with its dealing of the pandemic. Our cases were steadily reducing.

“After a peak in mid-April they were gradually reducing until the they had plateaued for two months. They started reducing again to the point of just over a week ago we had a really low number.

“There have been no deaths from Covid since July 13. However, at the beginning of last week, we were seeing the beginning of a small number of increased cases in the borough and we were assessing how to react to that.”