Greater Manchester Forced Into Tier 3 Lockdown After Talks With Government Collapse

Rachel Wearmouth
·Political correspondent, HuffPost UK
·3-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo: PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo: PA)

Ministers are preparing to impose new lockdown restrictions on Greater Manchester after talks between local leaders and ministers collapsed without agreement.

Businesses including pubs, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres, and soft play areas now look set to be closed for 28 days in a bid to curb the spread of the disease.

Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the new and stringent restrictions as part of a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham had been among the local leaders to reject the move, saying the support would leave many facing hardship ahead of winter.

Reacting to the news at a press conference in the city, Burnham said local leaders had calculated the area needed £65m to prevent a “winter of real hardship” under the new restrictions.

It is not yet clear what financial package for businesses and workers has been agreed, if any, but it is thought £60m was offered by ministers.

Burnham insisted the government “walked away” from negotiations and said people faced a “punishing” winter ahead, after what he branded a “deliberate act of levelling down”.

He told reporters: “We need to carry people with us, not crush their spirit.”

After issuing a midday deadline on the talks on Monday night, communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed negotiations had “concluded without an agreement” on Tuesday afternoon.

Burnham said: “In summary, at no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

“Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the government offered today.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaking to the media outside Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, following last-ditch talks with the prime minister aimed at securing additional financial support for his consent on new coronavirus restrictions (Photo: Jacob King - PA Images via Getty Images)
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaking to the media outside Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, following last-ditch talks with the prime minister aimed at securing additional financial support for his consent on new coronavirus restrictions (Photo: Jacob King - PA Images via Getty Images)

The mayor added: “I don’t think it is right to ask people to go into a lockdown, to accept further changes within their lives, without supporting them through all of that.

“How can we carry the public with us through this pandemic if we are forcing them to lose their income, their place of work, without supporting them through that?”

Jenrick, meanwhile, pointed to rising hospitalisations and Covid-related deaths in the north-west.

He said: “I’m disappointed that, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the mayor has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.

“I have therefore advised the prime minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the collapse of talks was “a sign of government failure”.

He said in a statement: “The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, north-west and north-east, and their leaders with contempt.

“Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

“Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.