Greater Manchester Mayor refutes PM's claims he worked with northern leaders over new Covid measures

12 October 2020, 20:48 | Updated: 12 October 2020, 21:03

By Fiona Jones

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham entirely refutes the PM's claims he worked with northern leaders over Covid measures in a damning assessment of the Government's three tier strategy.

Boris Johnson has confirmed a new three tier lockdown system in a bid to tackle local outbreaks of coronavirus.

He said the Government will "simplify and standardise" rules by introducing three tiers - medium, high and very high - in order to implement local lockdowns.

Twelve areas, many of which are in the North of England, are now considered a "high" risk alert with the Liverpool City Region entering the highest alert level, meaning pubs, casinos, gyms and betting shops are set to close from Wednesday.

Speaking both in the Commons and in a Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister said he had "reached an agreement" with the northern leaders about these new measures.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham utterly refuted this: "There's a need to deconstruct some of the spin we've heard at Downing Street press briefing. The idea that Steve Rotheram [Metro Mayor of Liverpool] volunteered to take on all these restrictions, he didn't. It was imposed upon him, he had no choice whatsoever."

This comes after the Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told LBC that he was "annoyed" the Prime Minister claimed that he and the northern leaders had "reached an agreement" on the new three tier lockdown measures.

The Metro Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotheram supported this account. In a Tweet he stated: "I've been saying all day it's totally false that myself or anyone else locally agreed to measures - they were dictated to us by government.

"The only talks were about the extra money and resources that are coming to the city region to help deal with the consequences."

The Manchester Mayor said that for his city, the cases are "very clearly linked" to the universities and now the numbers are coming down as the "universities have handled those outbreaks very well."

He told Iain that the "problem" with the Government strategy is "they are piling pressure on people like me to volunteer to go into the highest tier but they haven't put yet anything like a proper support package in place.

"There's no self-employed support scheme there's no business support - and bear in mind lots of businesses are right at the brink right now.

"We think if you accept tier three without adequate support we will see redundancies, we will see business failure, actually you'll see a mental health crisis alongside the pandemic."

"The Government has to get proper financial support in place before it piles the pressure upon people to jump into Tier Three," he said.

Mr Burnham reflected on the lockdown measures that have been in place in the city for ten weeks and branded them as having "limited effectiveness."

"They probably have a dampening effect but they don't drive cases down," he said, "the only way you can do that is with the localised test and trace operation."

He told Iain he is "not at all convinced" that the three tier strategy will be effective, calling it a "half-way house measure" to close alcohol-only pubs while keeping food-serving pubs open."

Mr Burnham also called for the power to temporarily close businesses, such as supermarkets, which could be a cause of significant Covid transmission.