Manchester Mayor: "Lockdown was eased too soon for the North"

14 May 2020, 16:34

By Fiona Jones

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham said the lockdown changes the Prime Minister announced on Sunday were "a little rushed" and "went a little too far" for the North.

The "Stay at Home" message was dropped too early for the north of England, he said.

"It's a different picture across England and we certainly are a couple of weeks behind London and the south east so I have a concern about the way it was done and what was actually communicated," he continued, reiterating he was not "breaking away."

"I just think it would help everybody if we had that R number published for all of the English regions, because then the public could make their own judgements about how much risk they would be exposing themselves to if they were to make major changes to their life."

Shelagh observed there does seem to need to be localised regulations across the UK as the pace can differ between places.

The Mayor said that was true and it did "come as a bit of a surprise" to people in the North, especially as some of the restriction lifting went "a bit further than I would".

"Given that the hospital cases here are higher, and the R number is higher, any changes will expose the North to greater risk given those factors. What I wanted to do was say to the government at least give us that information about the rates of infection so we can apply some extra guidance to your message," Mr Burnham said.

The R rate is 0.8 for Yorkshire and the North East and it is around 0.4 for London; Mr Burnham said there is a "pretty big difference between the two halves of England."

He advised that on top of the government's regulations, it's right for other leaders in the North to tell people to take the government's message but also look at the risks and "go towards the cautious end."