Non-league football fans asked to stay at home on Saturday as Northamptonshire battles rise in Covid-19 cases

Care home visiting also restricted again after number of new positive tests double in just one week

Health chiefs are asking sports fans to stay away from grounds this weekend and asked care home to limit visits from relatives as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Northamptonshire.

Today's weekly media briefing will be told that new positive tests have more than doubled across the county in the last week.

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And the message is Northamptonshire has reached a point where cases will continue to rise rapidly unless residents urgently obey national and local guidance.

The two big changes to guidance previously issued are:

Spectators at all sporting events are encouraged to stay at home.

• Due to the recent increase in cases locally, and given the age and illness profile of care home residents and hospital patients, as of Monday 12 October we are once again recommending providers limit public visiting (other than in extenuating circumstances).

Northamptonshire's Director of Public Health Lucy Wightman said: “This week we are increasing local restrictions in a bid to address the spread of the virus in our community.

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YOU can follow today's weekly Covid-19 media briefing as it happens HERE from 3pm."We are asking spectators of sports to stay away and with a very heavy heart we are asking visitors at care homes to protect their loved ones and only visit in exceptional circumstances.

“There are many restrictions imposed on us all at the moment but with the activity which remains permitted, I’m pleading with you - just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Every one of us needs to take responsibility for the spread of coronavirus.

"Together we can halt the spread if we protect ourselves and each other.

“If you have Covid-19 symptoms — high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste — then you should self-isolate and book a test.

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“If you test positive, you must self-isolate for ten days – with your household isolating for 14 days - do not go to your workplace, to school or to the shops. Either work from home or report sick. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be helped by the NHS test and trace service to identify the people they’ve recently been in contact with so they can be alerted and also self-isolate if required."

Although Premier League, Football League and National League grounds — including Kettering and Brackley — remain closed to supporters, non-league clubs nationally have been allowed a limited number of fans at games since the new season started last month.

Northampton Saints rugby matches have also been played behind closed doors while club rugby is unlikely to start being played again until the New Year.

Nearly 400 have turned up at AFC Rushden & Diamonds two Southern League home games so far this season and 399 watched Corby Town beat Bedworth United 4-0 on Wednesday night — all in accordance with Football Association guidelines.

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Although stopping short of a complete ban, today's latest advice for fans to avoid going to matches will also affect the handful of United Counties League teams in the area with matches planned for tomorrow (Saturday).

Corby are due to play Halesowen at home while Daventry Town, with average crowds of around 200, face Barton Rovers. Four UCL clubs also have home fixtures over the weekend.

Sporting events involving more than two teams have also been halted in the county since August, a move which was aimed primarily at mixing at junior tournaments.