Greater Manchester is coming to terms with what could potentially be many more months of tight restrictions, as it enters Tier 3 next week.
From Wednesday, December 2, tough rules will be imposed across the county as the second national lockdown comes to an end.
Hospitality will remain closed completely except for delivery and takeaway - just like during the national lockdown - and it will remain illegal to have guests in your home.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said that the measures are necessary given the "scale of the threat" faced by the UK.
He also said the tiers will be reviewed in a fortnight and kept "regularly under review after that".
The first review will take place by December 16, but the Prime Minister has warned that the tier system was likely to remain in place until April.
On the streets of Manchester city centre today, the feeling from the general public was that the move to put the region into Tier 3 was expected.
It is, however, causing frustration for those who have been effectively in lockdown conditions for the majority of the year.
Maria Kerti told a Press Association reporter on Market Street: “I did expect it. I think it’s the right move.
“Particularly before Christmas to slow it down a bit so at Christmas time we can be a bit more open and families can get together a little bit more.
“I totally agree with it because I think it will slow down the virus.
“Later on when we open up again I’m sure it will speed up again.”
25-year-old Manchester resident Sophie Palmer, meanwhile, said she is missing seeing friends and family as restrictions prevent social mixing, and fears that young people are ‘getting sick of it’.
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“I think it’s not a big surprise, I really thought we were going to be in Tier 3,” she said.
“I’m just annoyed the pubs are going to be closed. It’s a big social thing, I’m 25 so going out to the pub is massive.
“I’ll save money so there’s a positive there, but seeing friends and things, not being able to go out and socialise with people is a shame.
“I work for a tech company and we’re fully working from home so it’s difficult at home all day every day - the only time I go out is to go to Tesco.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I feel like a lot of young people are having house parties. In my building you can hear things going on and I think people are getting sick of it.”
Miss Palmer added that she believes enhanced testing will reduce the spread of the virus.
“I had Covid - I had it a month ago but I didn’t have a cough or a temperature so I wasn’t able to get a test,” she explained.
“So I went back on the NHS website and lied, and got a test and I was positive.
“Things like that are ridiculous, it’s why it’s spreading. They need to test more and hopefully that will get rid of it.”
Another Mancunian who is not surprised by the news is Mathilda Adewale.
She said: “It’s no surprise that we’re being placed in the strictest tier.
“We’re in a lockdown situation but people are still going out and having a social life. It’s no surprise that it’s happened.”
Her friend Avril Wilmot is hopeful things will improve soon, adding: “All people have to do is wear their masks and be careful.
“Obviously it’s okay to do things you want to do to an extent but when it’s putting other people in danger and it’s not needed there’s just no point.”
Others are worried for how those struggling financially will be affected, as many businesses remain closed.
Florian Hasalla has recently had to apply for universal credit. He said: “What they are proposing is going to make people suffer more, especially the people on benefits.
“I’m on universal credit and in the first week we’re struggling.
“They have proposed these new rules and we are going to suffer more really - us poor ones.
“Many people might turn to crime if the government doesn’t step up.
“The Manchester people have done more than any other region in my opinion. People have been following the rules.
“I work with the homeless and come here at night time and I don’t see a soul in the city so of course we are following the rules."
Up in Ramsbottom, a pub landlord said he believed that the restrictions are “unnecessarily going to cause hardship”, pointing out that the region has seen a fall in the rate of coronavirus infections.
Glen Duckett manages The Eagle and Child pub, which opened in October 2011 as a social enterprise. It has supported 130 unemployed and disadvantaged young people with training and employment.
However, Mr Duckett said restrictions mean they will no longer be able to take on three apprentices next week as planned.
He told the PA news agency he had three apprentices starting at his pub next week who he would now no longer be able to take on.
“With the lockdowns plus all of this, going into December which is one of our key trading times, we’ve lost tens of thousands of pounds and we’re a small business, we help disadvantaged young people into work,” Mr Duckett said.
“There’s just a complete lack of comprehension by the people making the decisions, it’s inconsistent, knee-jerk approaches.
“We have strict social distancing and we follow the track and trace scheme… that doesn’t happen in shops or supermarkets.
“I think this is unnecessarily going to cause hardship to small businesses in hospitality, which will put jobs and people’s livelihoods at risk.”
Local leaders and national government have clashed in recent months over how Greater Manchester has been affected by coronavirus restrictions.
Today’s announcement was no different, with Sir Richard Leese, the Labour leader of Manchester City Council, saying it was ‘deeply disappointing’ the city had been placed in Tier 3.
He added he ‘hoped for better news in two weeks’ time’.
Mr Leese said: “It is deeply disappointing that we have been placed in Tier 3 when we have seen a very significant reduction in infection levels, bringing Manchester close to the national average, and we have been making an evidence-based case to Government that we should be moved into Tier 2.
“We expect to continue making that progress and will keep pressing that case for an easing of restrictions. We hope for better news in two weeks’ time when the tiers are reviewed.
“We will also continue to campaign for Covid-safe businesses to remain open whatever tier we are in.
“I know that today’s announcement will be devastating for some, especially those in the hospitality and cultural sectors, and we call on the Government to provide better support for those affected. It is essential that livelihoods are protected.
“Manchester and Greater Manchester have spent longer in restrictions than most places in the country and it is important those cumulative impacts, as well as the additional impacts of extended restrictions, are recognised and addressed.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham meanwhile, told the M.E.N that the 'halfway house approach' taken to lockdown is partly to blame.
"It was a personal view and maybe not everybody's view, but I think schools should have been included in the national circuit break, because actually it would have benefited schools as well,” he said.
"People talked about kids spending time out of the classroom, but they are spending time out of the classroom and actually it probably would have helped everybody if we'd got the cases down much lower and then schools would have been less disrupted.
"I think we probably would have been in a lower tier to be honest with you if schools had closed."
He now wants Greater Manchester to be moved into Tier 2 within a fortnight if infection rates continue to fall.
The government will decide on December 16 whether the county faces entering 2021 under Tier 3 restrictions, or whether some semblance of normality can return.