Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 restrictions, PM confirms

20 October 2020, 17:13 | Updated: 20 October 2020, 20:33

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Greater Manchester will move into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The government has finally imposed the most stringent lockdown measures on the region following days of stalemate between local leaders and Westminster.

Greater Manchester will now enter the "very high" Covid-19 alert level in the early hours of Friday morning and the government will advise against travel into and out of the region.

Mr Johnson confirmed that the area will receive £22 million of funding as part of a "comprehensive package of support", far short of the £65 million minimum requested by local leaders in Greater Manchester.

"We couldn't offer a deal to Greater Manchester that was out of kilter with Lancashire and Liverpool," he said.

However, it was later confirmed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that the £60 million offer from the government was still "on the table", following an hour or two of confusion.

The prime minister added that he "regrets" that an agreement was not reached between the two parties but said the government made a "generous and extensive offer".

Read more: Burnham warns of ‘punishing’ winter, adds No 10 walked away from talks

Read more: Hancock confirms £60m support offer for Greater Manchester still stands

Boris Johnson (R) confirmed Greater Manchester would be placed under Tier 3 restrictions
Boris Johnson (R) confirmed Greater Manchester would be placed under Tier 3 restrictions. Picture: PA

On the negotiations that broke down with leaders in the region, the prime minister said: "Over the last 10 days we tried to get an approach with local leaders in Greater Manchester. Unfortunately, an agreement wasn't reached and I do regret this.

"As I said last week, it would have been better and we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together."

He said that, in addition, the government's "generous and extensive offer to support Manchester business" was "unfortunately" not accepted by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

"The mayor didn't accept this unfortunately and given the public health situation I must now proceed with moving Greater Manchester to the very high alert level," Mr Johnson added.

Read more: Second national lockdown would be 'enormously damaging' - chancellor

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The prime minister said: "Despite the failure to reach an agreement I hope the mayor and council leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with us to implement these measures."

He confirmed that conversations are ongoing with leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and the North East about the possibility of moving to the very high alert level and said: "I hope and expect central and local government will continue to work closely together.

"Ultimately all of us want to protect the NHS and in doing so to save lives."

When asked about the possibility of support for businesses in Greater Manchester, the prime minister said: "I've described some of the funds that are already on the table, other discussions undoubtedly will continue."

The new measures will mean that casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play areas must close.

Regulations for the region will be laid out in Parliament on Thursday and will come into force just after midnight, early on Friday morning.

In response, Conservative MP Chris Green, who represents Bolton West, wrote on Facebook: "Bolton has been through a far tougher lockdown than Tier 3 and it didn't work. The government believes that three weeks of closing pubs and soft play centres will make a dramatic difference. It hasn't and it won't.

"I am disappointed that this lockdown has been imposed and I don't believe the science supports this action. I think the health and economic impact will be damaging to our community but we have to do all we can to respect these rules since they have been imposed."

LBC's Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish said: "Boris Johnson says he couldn’t accept a deal that was 'out of kilter' with those agreed with Liverpool and Lancashire, but Manchester leaders will say that’s exactly what they’ve been given.

"Liverpool got £44m, Lancashire got £42m, Manchester is getting £22m."

Asked whether Tier 3 measures would be enough to bring infection rates down, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said: "The nationally published Tier 3 measures are the minimum national standard for hard measures but there are other things that local authorities can consider on top and I hope some do.

"What is really important is compliance. Everybody needs to accept that this is not a good place to be if you're in Tier 3, but to get behind it and try and get the rate of disease falling so that R in that area is falling so that the pressure comes off the health service."

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