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Tier 3 lockdown restrictions loom for Greater Manchester and Lancashire
14 October 2020, 10:32 | Updated: 14 October 2020, 20:44
Greater Manchester and Lancashire are expected to be the latest areas put under a new local lockdown, with the Joint Biosecurity Centre's Gold Command reportedly recommending Tier 3 restrictions.
It was reported on Wednesday evening that the Gold Command had signed off on new measures being implemented in the region, with a final decision expected from Downing Street tomorrow.
But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said after the announcement: "At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed."
He has battled against having Tier 3 measures introduced in the Greater Manchester area and is calling for greater financial support for businesses if local lockdowns are to be introduced.
A joint letter signed by Mr Burnham and all ten of the area's council leaders agreed with the "principle of having tiers of restrictions" to simplify messaging but said Greater Manchester could not accept stricter measures without any financial support.
The letter slammed the Government over poor communication and its refusal to respond to suggestions for the area sent days ago.
Said I wasn’t going to comment but now feel compelled to do so on the back of this Government briefing.— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) October 14, 2020
At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed. pic.twitter.com/A9V3Tbdisv
The leaders suggest Tier 2 restrictions with extra measures - such as banning the sale of alcohol past 10pm - in order to curb the virus.
Some areas in Lancashire are expected to jump from Tier 1 - where only basic national restrictions apply - to Tier 3, where widespread limitations on socialising and the closure of pubs and bars that don't serve "substantial meals" would be implemented.
There is significant concern over the impact on jobs and local economies in the region, but Lancashire County Council Leader conceded on Tuesday that it was "inevitable" the county would be placed under stricter measures.
The majority of council leaders also said they would back a two-week 'circuit break' lockdown if current measures did not work, but this is understood not to be backed by the Conservative-run Bolton Council, whose leader David Greenhalgh reacted furiously when Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed he backed the party on a new national lockdown.
Mayor Burnham and his Night Time Economy Adviser Sacha Lord confirmed earlier this week they remain ready to trigger legal action against the Government if new restrictions are imposed on the area without financial support.
Meanwhile in Merseyside, Liverpool leaders have hit out against the way talks between themselves and official were represented by Boris Johnson on Monday after it was announced the area would be the first to face Tier 3 restrictions.
The Prime Minister said that his team had agreed with local leaders on the controversial decision to shut gyms, but Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram later confirmed that "neither I nor any of our leaders closed gyms or asked for them to be."
"That decision was Government's and Government's alone. We'll be working to make Government let them open as soon as possible," he added.
The move to close gyms despite little evidence of their contribution to the spread of the virus has prompted anger from business owners, customers and politicians alike.
The imposition of restrictions follows a sharp increase in the number of hospital admissions in Liverpool - expected to surpass the peak of the first wave in the coming days.
Liverpool City Council officials confirmed on Wednesday morning that intensive care in the city was now at 90% capacity.
On Tuesday night, just hours before new restrictions came in to force, videos emerged of large crowds partying in the streets in the city.
The proposal for a 'circuit breaker' national lockdown, where everywhere except schools would be forced to close for at least two weeks, has also gained traction after Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer backed the idea at a press conference on Tuesday.
So far, several major political figures in the North of England, including Mayor Rotheram and South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis, have backed the plan.
In a press conference on Tuesday evening, the opposition leader said the Government had "lost control" of the virus and pleaded with the Prime Minister to close down non-essential shops and other businesses.
It follows the revelation that the Government ignored advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to implement a national lockdown three weeks ago.
After a vote on the Government's new coronavirus restrictions Chris Green, MP for Greater Manchester constituency Bolton West and Parliamentary Private Secretary to House of Lord Leader Baroness Evans, resigned letter that over the local lockdown in Bolton which he said had "clearly has not worked".
Writing to Boris Johnson, the MP said the local lockdown measures in Greater Manchester have "failed to control the number of positive tests" and that he believes "there are better alternatives to the government's approach" to bring down rising case numbers.