Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he will impose the highest Tier 3 local lockdown across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester after talks broke down with local leaders over the level of financial aid to support the region through the tough new restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference to the nation, Mr Johnson said the new measures – which will see pubs and bars ordered to shut and no household mixing indoors and in most outdoor settings – were essential to bring down the rate of coronavirus cases across the Greater Manchester region and would come into effect from midnight on Thursday, October 22nd.
He said he “regretted” the breakdown of talks with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, but then announced a financial package of £22m – thought to be significantly lower than the sums the region’s leaders had earlier been asking for.
Mr Johnson said at the press conference: “We’ve tried to get a joint approach, but unfortunately agreement wasn’t reached, and I do regret this. We’d have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together. We made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester’s business. I must stress it was proportionate to Liverpool and Lancashire. The mayor didn’t accept this, and I now must move Greater Manchester to the highest alert level. To not act would put Manchester’s NHS and residents’ lives at risk.”
The new restrictions
Announcing the Tier 3 restrictions, Mr Johnson said: “Pubs and bars must close if they are not serving substantial meals, households must not mix indoors and in most outdoor settings, and we strongly advise against travel into and out of the area.
“Casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres, and soft play areas must also close.”
They will come into effect from 00.01 on Friday, October 23rd.
“Deliberate act of levelling down.”
His announcement came after an angry press conference from GM mayor Andy Burnham following the breakdown in talks on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Burnham said they could only accept further restrictions with a fair level of financial support and warned Manchester that there are now “tough times ahead”.
Mr Burnham said: “It wasn’t about what we wanted. It was about what we needed.
“What we have seen today is a deliberate act of levelling down.”
This is the first time restrictions have been imposed without the agreement of local authorities since the new covid alert level was announced by the government in a bid to tackle the rising threat of coronavirus on a local lockdown basis.
The breakdown in talks centred around the level of financial aid – with Greater Manchester leaders asking for £75m to support those affected, while the government were said to be offering £60m.
The new rules will see over 1,800 pubs and bars ordered to shut from 00.01 on Friday, October 23rd. Restaurants and pubs serving “substantial food” will not have to close.