This afternoon Andy Burnham will hold the region’s latest press conference on the coronavirus situation in Greater Manchester.
He will be joined by his deputy, Beverley Hughes, as well as Sacha Lord, who leads on the night time economy for the mayor.
They will be updating on the latest Covid-19 statistics for the conurbation, as well as lockdown restrictions.
Currently Covid rates are high across all ten boroughs and still rising in most of them.
Hospital admissions are also starting to see an increase, although there has been no detailed update on that from Greater Manchester’s leadership for a couple of weeks.
Ministers are expected to confirm a tightening of lockdown rules in Stockport and Wigan this afternoon, to bring them into line with most of the rest of the conurbation and the North West.
That would mean a return to limits on household mixing, meaning people would not be able to meet in homes or gardens.
There is also likely to be an update on how enforcement is being carried out by Greater Manchester Police, amid a major push on enforcement by the government, although leaders here are concerned about the financial consequences both for the force and for councils.
Meanwhile Mr Burnham has already criticised the Chancellor’s latest support package for workers, announced yesterday, as not going far enough.
There are likely to be further concerns raised about the impact of Covid measures on the hospitality industry, including the effect of the nationwide 10pm curfew, unveiled by Boris Johnson earlier this week.
We will be covering the press conference live here from 1.30pm.
'No abatement' in people breaking Covid laws
(Apologies if any of those charts in the last post don’t show up in the blog - I know sometimes they don’t. But we’ll do a round up piece afterwards anyway.)
Bev Hughes is now speaking about enforcement.
She says there has been progress on the partnerships that have been set up to enforce the curfew and so on.
Last weekend and this week they had hoped to see - in light of high case numbers - that we would see an ‘abatement’ in the number of large gatherings among a ‘significant minority’.
I’m afraid that has not happened.
There were more than 500 Covid reports to GMP last week and 350 house parties; more than 25 fixed penalty notices issued.
There is a ‘persistent and significant minority of people’ who are not following the rules, she says, and there isn’t much sign, ‘depressingly’, that that behaviour is changing.
And we're off
AB is kicking off the press conference.
He starts with the data. The below numbers ‘speak for themselves’, he says.
These are ‘difficult’ numbers for GM, he says, and they’re ‘working hard to bring them down’.
Here’s the testing figures; he says they show more testing has been happening over time.
There has been ‘very significant’ problems with testing last week and the week before, he says, but there was still an increase in testing - just not enough to meet demand.
The final line is positivity rate, which is at its highest in Bolton. Anything over 5% is a ‘high rate’, he says.
And here’s the contact tracing stats: this remains something they’re concerned about. “There’s a high percentage of people not being reached.”
GMP and the fire service have been preparing to support the contact tracing effort, door to door, he says.
A ‘huge amount of work’ has been going on ahead of that going live next week.
And, finally, hospital admissions (hurrah).
The same trend of increase has been sustained, he says. And there’s also been an increase in people in ICU - although at the peak, those numbers were six times higher than they are now.
These numbers are increasing in ‘quite a steady way’, he says. And there has been a ‘small increase’ in the number of care home cases.
Hello and welcome
Welcome to this week’s press conference coverage.
It was supposed to start at 1pm, but has been pushed back to 1.30pm, which gives me the chance to outline a bit of what’s going on and what might be said.
This week’s press conference was originally meant to take place on Wednesday, but as leaders struggled to agree on what lockdown approach to ask for from government, it was postponed until today, when the picture was likely to be clearer.
Since then it has become apparent that government has decided to put Stockport and Wigan back into the measures most of GM (with the exception of Oldham and Bolton, where rules are even tighter) have been under throughout the summer.
MPs for those areas have subsequently been briefed that this will be happening, although so far I’m struggling to get any clarity as to when the measures actually come into force.
Friday is the day government announces whatever measures it is changing across the country, not just here, so news is also starting to trickle out about other areas.
Leeds appears to be in line for measures similar to ours, while London has been added to the government’s watchlist, meaning ministers are worried about it but aren’t adding any new rules at the moment. None of this has been officially announced by the government, by the way; instead, as usual, it’s just trickling out from local sources across the country.
We’ve covered some of this in our separate Covid live blog here.
At today’s GM press conference, we can expect comment on the new measures for Stockport and Wigan and probably also on the growing strain on public services here, as well as reaction to Rishi Sunak’s latest package for workers and an update on local Covid data.
Last week’s update did include some data, covering testing numbers and infection rates, but it didn’t provide anything on hospitals.
Whether that will be different today, I don’t know, but if you’re ever wondering why our daily updates on infection rates don’t include hospital admissions numbers, that’s why: it isn’t for want of trying on our part - they just don’t get published very often. Unless we have some leaked figures, it’s quite hard to tell people what’s going on.