South Yorkshire will be the latest region placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, the Sheffield City Region mayor has announced.
Dan Jarvis said: “Following extensive discussions with ministers, local council leaders and I have agreed with Government that South Yorkshire will move into Tier 3, the ‘very high’ alert level for coronavirus restrictions.”
He said the restrictions, which will cover around 1.4 million people in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, will come into force on Saturday morning.
The move came after Mr Jarvis said that he and council leaders in the region were able to secure a £41 million support package from the Government.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the restrictions would only be in place for as long as they were “absolutely necessary” and would be reviewed in 28 days’ time.
With the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 having doubled over the past 10 days, he said that leaders had no choice but to act.
“We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS. Inaction was not an option,” he said.
“While infection rates vary across South Yorkshire, collective action was the only practical choice to keep everyone in our region safe.”
Officials said that in South Yorkshire, case rates range from 285 people per 100,000 in Doncaster up to 402 people per 100,000 in Sheffield.
Mr Jarvis said that if the measures were effective, individual authorities would be able to move to lower alert levels as soon as it was safe to do so.
However he said that to reach that situation as quickly as possible it was “critical” that people followed the new rules.
“The character and grit of people in South Yorkshire will be needed in abundance to help us get through what will be an incredibly challenging period,” he said.
“Our NHS staff have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep us all safe. We owe it to them to ease the pressure ahead of the toughest winter our health service will ever face. I know people will step up and do their bit.”
The financial package agreed with the Government includes £30 million to support the region’s businesses and £11 million for councils for measures such as test and trace.
The announcement means means 7.3 million people, or 13% of England’s population, will now be living under Tier 3 restrictions which include a ban on households mixing and the closure of pubs and bars which do not serve meals.
In South Yorkshire, the restrictions will also include the closure of betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres.
Gym classes will not be allowed, but gyms will remain open.
The South Yorkshire deal came amid continuing recriminations following the collapse of talks on Tuesday over a financial support package for Greater Manchester.
Mr Jenrick said the Government had no choice but to put the region into Tier 3 after mayor Andy Burnham rejected an offer of £60 million.
He said the money was still available and invited council leaders in the region to approach him directly for a share.
“The money is still there. It’s got Greater Manchester’s name on it,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“We have had very productive conversations with the local council leaders in recent days. The council leaders can come to me, my door is open.”
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said Health Secretary Matt Hancock had told Greater Manchester MPs on Tuesday that there would not now be a “single penny” for the region other than the £22 million the Government was providing for test and trace.
“That story seems to have changed overnight,” she told the Today programme.
Ms Nandy, the MP for Wigan, said ministers now appeared to be trying to set one authority against another in a way that was not helpful.
“As it currently stands we are going into Tier 3 – the highest level of restrictions – on Friday and there are people in Greater Manchester who will not survive this unless the Government starts to negotiate in good faith,” she said.
“At the moment it feels like the Government is taking a divide-and-rule approach and trying play us off against one another which is really unhelpful.”
However Mr Jenrick said the talks had broken down as Mr Burnham – who was holding out for £65 million – had insisted on “preferential arrangements” for Greater Manchester compared to other regions.
“In a meeting with the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister offered £55 million, Andy Burnham asked for £65 million. The Prime Minister said: ‘Look, let’s just compromise, and get this done for the sake of people in Greater Manchester,’” he said.
“Andy Burnham wasn’t willing to, so we had to take action.”