Greater Manchester and Lancashire await government’s Tier Three decree

Andy Burnham

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is expected to hold talks with Downing Street officials this morning over calls to place the region into Tier Three of the Government’s pandemic response.

The Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre has reportedly recommended that most of the North West and North East of England, as well as parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands, should be moved into the most restrict tier.

Currently, Liverpool City Region is the only area in England to have been placed into Tier Three, which requires pubs, betting shops, casinos and adult gaming centres to close, as well as restrictions on contacts for households.

Greater Manchester and Lancashire are currently in Tier Two.

Lancashire County Council leader, Geoff Driver, said it is inevitable that the county will go into Tier Three, given the high rate of coronavirus infections.

Last night Mr Burnham tweeted a response to a Sky News report on the call by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, saying: “Said I wasn’t going to comment but now feel compelled to do so on the back of this Government briefing.

“At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed.”

He is calling for increased financial support for businesses and workers affected by any shutdowns brought about by Tier Three, and has threatened legal action against the Government to back this.

In an online press conference yesterday, he said: “We are law abiding people, we would respect the law of the land.

“But we would consider other routes, legal routes, where we could protect our many thousands of residents who are going to be left in severe hardship in the run up to Christmas.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast yesterday, Conservative councillor Geoff Driver said: “With the high rates of infection in most parts of the county area it’s inevitable we’re going to move into Tier Three.

“It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy.”

He added: “It’s an inescapable fact and the very, very firm advice that we’re getting from our directors of public health is that closing the pubs and bars will not, in itself, get on top of the virus, so we will need to take other measures in addition to that and in order to do that effectively we need more resources.

“That’s the push that we’re making with government at the moment.

“If we don’t take proper measures now, within three weeks the hospitals in Lancashire will be having the same admissions for COVID as they did at the height of the first wave.

“If we don’t take those measures now, in another couple of weeks after that we could be double the admissions that were occurring at the height of the peak in March and April, so we really do have to take measures.

“Just closing the pubs and bars will not, in itself, bring the virus infection rate down.”