United Kingdom

Coronavirus UK: Manchester braces for return to tier three after England's lockdown ends

The Mayor of Greater Manchester said today that he expects the UK Government to put the region's 2.8million people in the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions.

Andy Burnham said it is 'more likely than not' that Ministers will put his area in the 'very high' level when the national lockdown ends next Wednesday at 00.01am.

The 50-year-old told an online press conference this afternoon that statements from politicians in recent days suggested they would 'err on the side of caution'.

But he added that he would want a 'serious review' of Greater Manchester's position at the first review of tiering arrangements, which is due to happen after two weeks.

It follows a tense stand-off last month between the Government and the Labour former cabinet minister over whether to place the region into tier three.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, spoke in an online press conference today

Government data shows how the number of daily cases of Covid recorded in each of the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester has changed each day

The same data shows how the number of daily cases of Covid have dropped in Liverpool - which was also put into the original Tier Three

Data shows the number of daily deaths recorded in the City of Manchester since the pandemic began

Covid-19 cases have fallen across most of the North of England since lockdown was imposed, but they are rising in a corner of the South East. The percentage change is based on comparing data from the week ending November 15 to the week ending November 8. It comes as the Government prepares to unveil its tier system

The onerous tiered system will be in place across England from December 3 until the end of March, the Prime Minister said

Mayor says £30m fund won't be enough to 'get the real work under way to level up the country'

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the Government's commitment to a devolved transport settlement and the announcement of an infrastructure bank in the north but criticised the Levelling Up Fund.

Speaking at an online press conference, Mr Burnham said: 'Funding to invest in infrastructure is good but I think people need to look behind the headlines and slogans here because we don't believe this will be doing much levelling up any time soon.'

He said Greater Manchester's share of the fund would be £30million next year, which would not be enough to 'get the real work under way to level up the country'.

He added: 'I don't believe you could say that amounts to a substantial plan to level up the country.'

In other coronavirus news:

It emerged earlier this week that communities will not be consulted on which Covid tier they will be placed in following the lockdown – and will have no right of appeal. 

The Government will set out a map tomorrow detailing which areas will go into each of the three new tiers of restrictions.

Today, Mr Burnham said that it was 'more likely than not' the area would be made subject to tier three restrictions.

He added: 'We don't know what tier we will be in, that still has not been communicated to us. I think it is fair to say we are heading at some speed to Tier 3, Tier 2 borderline, given the figures.'

He said although infection numbers in Greater Manchester were still high, the rates were falling.

He added: 'If things continue in this direction at the rate at which we are seeing change in Greater Manchester, I would want to ask the Government for a serious review of Greater Manchester's position at the first review of tiering arrangements which is scheduled to take place two weeks from now.'

Mr Burnham said he did not agree with the tier three measures which had been put forward by the Government.

He said: 'Tier 3, in my view, is too punishing on hospitality and will be too hard on city centres, particularly as we go through Christmas and the New Year period.'

Yesterday, the Health Secretary said the Government's wrangle with Greater Manchester over coronavirus restrictions was a factor in changing its approach on how to apply the forthcoming tiers-based system. 

A group of people wearing a face masks walk down Market Street in Manchester on October 21

The seven day rate of positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population is shown in this slide, which was part of Mr Burnham's online press conference this morning

Lockdown tiers announced tomorrow could be 'unjustified', expert says

Local lockdown tiers announced tomorrow may already be outdated and 'unjustified' when England's national shutdown lapses next week because Covid infections are plummeting across the country, according to one of Britain's top infectious disease experts. 

Just 9,854 new infections were recorded in England yesterday, almost half of the number of diagnoses last Tuesday (18,626). If infections halve again next week, the country will be in the same situation it was prior to the second wave in September, when there were minimal curbs in place.

Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist and expert in evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, said 'if the trend continues it will be hard to justify tougher tiered restrictions' when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

He underlined the importance of Number 10 being transparent about the criteria it's using to justify Tier Two or Tier Three curbs and urged ministers to lay out exactly what needs to change for high-risk areas to be downgraded amid warnings virtually no-where in England will go into a Tier One. 

Professor Heneghan told MailOnline: 'By the time we get to December 2 we will be in very different position than we are now, therefore we need to be much more flexible and reactive, and set out clear criteria.'  

Matt Hancock told MPs that the high-profile battle in October with the North West region over moving it into tier three restrictions had been 'bad for public health' and vowed not to let it happen again under the new system coming in next month.

Before the second national lockdown in England, ministers undertook negotiations with local authorities in order to settle on a package of measures to control rising rates of coronavirus infection in their areas, along with financial support to help mitigate any impact.

But a lengthy row last month with Greater Manchester saw the region's mayor Andy Burnham undertake a host of defiant press conferences objecting to plans to put the 10 boroughs into Tier 3 - the most stringent of Covid restrictions.

The Labour mayor accused ministers at the time of treating the region as a 'sacrificial lamb' by asking it to accept a proposal which the 'Government's own advisers say won't work'.

Under beefed-up tiers announced by the Prime Minister on Monday, due to come into force once the lockdown ends next Wednesday, there will no longer be a set of negotiations with local areas, with ministers instead relying on a formula to decide which areas are placed in what tier.

To make their decision, officials will look at coronavirus cases across all age groups, but specifically among the over-60s who are considered most at risk, along with whether infection rates are rising and the prevalence of the disease per 100,000 of the population.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Burnham said many hospitality businesses would not survive a toughened system of tiered controls in England.

'I am worried about what I am hearing this morning. It seems that a toughened Tier 3 could be devastating for the hospitality industry and will hit cities and the city economy very, very hard indeed,' he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

'They seem to be going too far before Christmas to allow too much over Christmas and that will lead to a huge loss of hospitality businesses, which I would say is too big a price to pay.

'To close all hospitality businesses in tier three areas - that will be large parts of the North - that will be devastating for many of those businesses. They will not survive that.'

The age-specific case rate in Greater Manchester, shown for the whole region and its sub areas

Care home residents in Greater Manchester with confirmed Covid-19 or showing symptoms

The number of Covid-19 cases occupying hospital beds in the Greater Manchester area

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