Coronavirus UK: Manchester and Lancashire could be plunged into strictest Tier 3 lockdown

0 14


Northern leaders today backed Sir Keir Starmer’s calls for a nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown and refused to accept the Prime Minister’s plans for tier three restrictions.

The Greater Manchester mayor and its local council leaders said they were resisting the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help, adding to calls also made by the Labour leader for new national measures.

Greater Manchester and Lancashire could be the next regions to be put under the Government’s highest tier of new local Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Ministers, councillors and medical experts are expected to hold a ‘gold command’ meeting today to discuss moving the North West areas up from tier two to three.

As the three-tier Covid-19 alert level system comes into force across England today, Liverpool City Region is currently the only area in the highest tier.

But discussions will be held in a joint biosecurity meeting today on whether Greater Manchester and Lancashire should also be classified as ‘very high’ risk.

In a joint statement today, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the leaders of the local authorities in the region insisted they should not be placed in tier three. 

Their intervention piles further pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a national circuit-breaker lockdown, which is now happening in Northern Ireland.

Click here to find out what the rules are in your area

Click here to find out the Covid-19 case rate in your area 

Almost all of England, except for some parts of the Midlands and the North that already had tougher local rules, have kept the same social distancing rules that are in place nationally now. Liverpool (in red) is the only area that faces the highest level of restrictions from today

Almost all of England, except for some parts of the Midlands and the North that already had tougher local rules, have kept the same social distancing rules that are in place nationally now. Liverpool (in red) is the only area that faces the highest level of restrictions from today

Coronavirus infection rates have soared in the Lancashire region over the last two months

Coronavirus infection rates have soared in the Lancashire region over the last two months

Coronavirus infection rates have soared in the Lancashire region over the last two months

In other developments:

  • The UK recorded the highest daily death figure in four months, with a further 143 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of yesterday;
  • Mr Johnson suffered a major Tory backbench rebellion over the 10pm hospitality curfew, amid a growing backlash against Government coronavirus restrictions;
  • Tory MP Chris Green, who represents Bolton West, resigned as a ministerial aide over local restrictions, saying the ‘attempted cure is worse than the disease’;
  • London mayor Sadiq Khan said that it is inevitable the capital will pass a ‘trigger point’ to enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the ‘next few days’.

The joint statement by leaders in Greater Manchester said: ‘If the Government pursues its current strategy, we believe it will leave large parts of the North of England trapped in Tier 3 for much of the winter with all the damage that will do.

‘If cases continue to rise as predicted, and the Government continues to refuse to provide the substantial economic support that Tier 3 areas will need, then a number of leaders in Greater Manchester believe a national circuit-break, with the required financial support would be a preferable option.’

However, in Lancashire, county council leader Geoff Driver said it is ‘inevitable’ his region would enter Tier 3.

‘It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy,’ the Conservative told BBC Breakfast.

A shopper walks along a near-deserted street in Manchester city centre yesterday, ahead of today's meeting which could see tighter restrictions imposed on the Greater Manchester area

A shopper walks along a near-deserted street in Manchester city centre yesterday, ahead of today's meeting which could see tighter restrictions imposed on the Greater Manchester area

A shopper walks along a near-deserted street in Manchester city centre yesterday, ahead of today’s meeting which could see tighter restrictions imposed on the Greater Manchester area

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was 'disappointing' the Government was 'piling the pressure' on the region 'without negotiating'

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was 'disappointing' the Government was 'piling the pressure' on the region 'without negotiating'

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was ‘disappointing’ the Government was ‘piling the pressure’ on the region ‘without negotiating’

However the leaders in Greater Manchester citied two reasons why they believe the region should not be put into tier three.

The first is that the rate of infection in Greater Manchester is much lower, at 357.6 cases per 100,000, compared to Liverpool City Region which at 488.0 per 100,000.

The leaders also said the region’s hospital admission rate is much lower than in Liverpool – around the 100 mark, compared to 225 in the Merseyside city.

They also said the ‘financial package accompanying tier three is nowhere near sufficient to prevent severe hardship, widespread job losses and business failure’.

They also highlighted comments from England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, that tier three measures would only limit the spread if they included much more widespread business closures than just pubs.

But the council leaders and Mr Burnham said the Government has not put in place an economic package to support a wider local lockdown.

Their statement said: ‘We therefore reject the Government’s current drive to pile pressure on places to enter tier three.

‘We take particular issue with the offer of local control of Test and Trace as an incentive to do so. This should be on offer to all local areas and is more likely to be effective in those areas in tiers one and two.’

Earlier, Mr Burnham also said the Government ‘has not discussed’ whether his area will be moved into Tier 3 status later today.

He tweeted: ‘Since one meeting on Friday, the Government has not discussed these matters with us. Instead, the pressure is being piled on via media briefings.’

And in a tweet last night, he said it was ‘disappointing’ the Government was ‘piling the pressure’ on the region ‘without negotiating’.

Mr Burnham said: ‘It risks confusing people coming so soon after the tier two announcement. Our view is unchanged: unfunded restrictions are unfair and will cause real damage to lives, jobs and businesses.’ 

A Number 10 source said last night that top-level discussions needed to take place because they were ‘concerned’ about Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

It follows the surprise announcement on Monday that the two regions were only placed in the second tier, despite the high cases and hospital admissions.

The most severe lockdown across the two areas would result in the closure of 3,100 pubs and 475 gyms, reported Sky News.

Signage is pictured outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West set up to provide more hospital capacity during the pandemic at Manchester Central Convention Complex yesterday

Signage is pictured outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West set up to provide more hospital capacity during the pandemic at Manchester Central Convention Complex yesterday

Signage is pictured outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West set up to provide more hospital capacity during the pandemic at Manchester Central Convention Complex yesterday

It comes as scientists advising the Government calculated a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could save thousands of lives by the end of the year.

How England currently breaks down in new Covid lockdown tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to go further by introducing a fortnight of nationwide curbs to bring the coronavirus resurgence under control.

Downing Street is understood to be keeping the idea on the table, after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said a two to three-week national lockdown over the October half term was needed to prevent a ‘sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter’.

A paper by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reportedly calculates that more than 7,000 lives could be saved if schools are closed and people are ordered to stay at home from October 24 for two weeks.

The Times said the modelling suggested that coronavirus deaths for the rest of the year could be reduced from 19,900 to 12,100, with hospital admissions cut from 132,400 to 66,500.

If schools and shops remained open, the death toll could be cut to 15,600, it reported.

The paper, due to be published today, is authored by Professor Graham Medley and other members of the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling – known as SPI-M.

They are said to note that there are ‘no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break’.

It comes after Sir Keir used a televised press conference to warn that Mr Johnson was ‘no longer following the scientific advice’ by proposing ‘far less stringent restrictions’ than suggested by Sage.

It emerged on Monday that the Prime Minister dismissed a recommendation for a ‘circuit-breaker’ from Sage three weeks ago, opting instead for the less drastic three-tier local alert levels.

Under the measures – which come into force today – all areas of England will be put into different categories labelled as medium, high or very high risk.

The medium level maintains current national restrictions, high-risk areas will see households banned from mixing indoors, and the third tier will see harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs – unless they can operate as a restaurant.

Sir Keir told reporters yesterday: ‘There’s no longer time to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. The Government’s plan simply isn’t working. Another course is needed.’

He said schools must stay open but that all pubs, bars and restaurants should be closed during the circuit-breaker, while firms are compensated so ‘no business loses out’ in order to ‘break the cycle’ of infection.

‘If we don’t, we could sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter. That choice is now for the Prime Minister to make. I urge him to do so,’ Sir Keir said.

He is likely to press the point when he questions Mr Johnson at PMQs in the Commons at noon today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street yesterday for a Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street yesterday for a Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street yesterday for a Cabinet meeting

Bars open their doors in Liverpool last night before new local lockdown measures come in

Bars open their doors in Liverpool last night before new local lockdown measures come in

Bars open their doors in Liverpool last night before new local lockdown measures come in

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said his party also backed a circuit-breaker, warning that ‘otherwise the cost to lives and livelihoods as well as to jobs in our communities may be too harsh to bear’.

What are the new three-tier restrictions? 

TIER ONE  – MEDIUM

Tier one restrictions are believed to mirror those already in place across England.

These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.  

TIER TWO – HIGH

Tier two restrictions are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in parts of the north east and north west, where indoor mixing of households is prohibited.

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH

Restaurants can open, but only until 10pm. 

Pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant.

This definition will extend to pubs which sell ‘substantial’ meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.

Locals will be advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas will also be banned.

Households will not be allowed to to mix either indoors or outdoors.    

Downing Street also revealed today that parts of the top Very High Risk will be ‘bespoke’. 

Alongside the blanket closure of pubs, restrictions on household mixing and guidance not to travel outside the local area, the Government will liaise with local politicians and health experts to tailor the lockdown.

This means two adjacent districts could have different lockdowns, with one having gyms open and the other seeing them closed. This could also affect institutions like bingo halls, bookies, casinos, beauty salons and hairdressers.

 

And Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told Times Radio he too was considering a ‘short, sharp intervention’ – but that there remained ‘some very practical things that we’ve all got to think about’.

Northern Ireland is to enter a period of intensified coronavirus restrictions after the Stormont executive announced closures of schools, pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools will close on Monday for two weeks, one of which will cover the half-term break.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said England’s tiered system would ‘give an idea’ of a similar scheme she is developing, which could come into effect when stricter measures are due to be eased on October 25. 

Meanwhile Britons confused by lockdown rules can now find out what Covid-19 restrictions and infection rates are in their area thanks to two new interactive tools – as questions swirl about where could be next hit with tougher curbs.

The tools were released on the Gov.uk website after Boris Johnson announced his new three-tier system last night. Users enter their postcodes and are then told whether the alert level in their area is ‘medium, ‘high’, or ‘very high’.

People then click a link to get more information on what restrictions come with each level. A second interactive map allows Brits to find out the exact Covid-19 case rate where they live.

The move is an attempt by the Government to make local lockdown rules clearer to residents living in hotspot areas. 

Ministers have been repeatedly criticised for their communication strategy throughout the crisis, which has seen inconsistent restrictions and last-minute rule changes.

So far only parts of Merseyside have been thrust into the harshest lockdown category, which means pubs and gyms need to close and residents aren’t allowed to leave their towns or cities unless they have good reason.

Swathes of the North of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands have been placed in the second tier, with a ban on indoor mixing of households. But the majority of the country remains within the lowest category, with the standard ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew in place.

However, MPs and council leaders in Essex – which is currently a tier one county – have requested to be bumped up to the second class after being shown Covid-19 data which warned of an exponential rise in cases for the weeks ahead.

The number of infections in Essex has risen from just over 700 in the week ending October 2 to more than 1,000 the following seven days. Some places have seen infections treble in a week. 

The Tendring district in Essex – which includes Clacton, Harwich and Manningtree – saw cases rise from 26 cases per 100,000 to 81 per 100,000 in that week.

Essex Council formally asked the government to raise the county’s status in the three-tier alert system today, which would entail tighter social restrictions on its 1.4million residents. 

An interactive tool from the Government shows what Covid-19 restrictions are in each area

An interactive tool from the Government shows what Covid-19 restrictions are in each area

An interactive tool from the Government shows what Covid-19 restrictions are in each area

A map allows users to check the coronavirus case rate per 100,000 in their local authority

A map allows users to check the coronavirus case rate per 100,000 in their local authority

A map allows users to check the coronavirus case rate per 100,000 in their local authority

David Finch, leader at the Conservative-controlled council, told the BBC: ‘By acting now, we can hope to stem this increase, limiting the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and – above all – avoiding further escalation into Very High.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today warned it is ‘inevitable’ that London will be plunged into a tier two lockdown this week. The UK capital is currently ranked as a ‘medium’ risk zone in the Government’s three-tier system.

But he warned today that London will ‘inevitably’ be moved upwards ‘this week’, because ‘hospital admissions, ICU occupancy, the numbers of older people with cases, the prevalence of the disease, the positivity are all going the wrong direction’.

Lancashire is also said to be at risk of being bumped up to tier three ‘within days’ because 14 towns and cities within the county in the North West are recording more than 100 infections per 100,000 population.

Burnley is recording about 404 cases per 100,000, while Preston’s case rate is 307, according to Public Health England data up to October 4. 

 

 

Rounding out the top five, Pendle is reporting 300 cases per 100,000, Hyndburn 283 and West Lancashire 281. For comparison, the case rate in Merseyside is 685 per 100,000.

Blackburn Labour MP Kate Hollern told the Lancashire Telegraph today that the county’s huge case rate means it is ‘in tier two today but we could be in tier three tomorrow’. 

Rossendale and Darwen Conservative MP Jake Berry said: ‘It is good news that East Lancashire is in tier two but we were on the cusp of going into tier three. If people do not observe the rules of tier two then we will be going into the higher level. We are very close to the edge.’

And councillors in Leeds are having discussions with the Government about bumping the city up to the harshest lockdown category to get a grip on the virus there. The city’s current rate is 422 cases per 100,000 people, having soared from 55 per 100,000 this time last month.

Northern Ireland enters four weeks of intensified restrictions such as closures of schools and restaurants

Northern Ireland is to enter a period of intensified coronavirus restrictions after the Stormont executive announced closures of schools, pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries, while schools will close on Monday for two weeks, one of which will cover the half-term break.

The measures do not amount to a full-scale lockdown similar to that imposed during the first wave of the virus, but they mark a significant ramping up of the administration’s response to spiralling infection rates. 

First Minister Arlene Foster (pictured at Stormont on October 8) vowed to 'stand by' any businesses and individuals impacted by any new measures

First Minister Arlene Foster (pictured at Stormont on October 8) vowed to 'stand by' any businesses and individuals impacted by any new measures

First Minister Arlene Foster (pictured at Stormont on October 8) vowed to ‘stand by’ any businesses and individuals impacted by any new measures 

Retail outlets will remain open, as will gyms for individual training.

Churches will also remain open. It is understood a 25-person limit will be placed on funerals and weddings, but wedding receptions are prohibited.

People should work from home unless unable to do so, and are urged not to take unnecessary journeys.

Indoor sporting activities are not allowed and outdoor contact sports will be limited to elite athletes. Off licences will be required to shut at 8pm.

First Minister Arlene Foster announced the restrictions at a special sitting of the Assembly today.

She said the rising Covid-19 figures in Northern Ireland were of ‘grave concern’.

‘We fully appreciate that this will be difficult and worrying news for a lot of people,’ she told MLAs. 

A sign urging people to 'wash your hands' outside Queen's University, Belfast last week

A sign urging people to 'wash your hands' outside Queen's University, Belfast last week

A sign urging people to ‘wash your hands’ outside Queen’s University, Belfast last week

‘The executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great detail. We do not take this step lightly.’

Mrs Foster said the executive hoped the restrictions would have two impacts.

‘First, on the Covid transmission rates which must be turned down now, or we will be in a very difficult place very soon indeed,’ she said.

‘Second, we believe it marks a point where everyone, each and every one of us, can take stock and go back to the social distancing messaging. That is vitally important.’

The restrictions were agreed after a stop-start meeting of the Stormont executive that extended past midnight and into this morning.

Mrs Foster insisted the restrictions would not last any longer than four weeks.

A woman walks past a face covering display at Newsagents in Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 05, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A woman walks past a face covering display at Newsagents in Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 05, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A woman walks past a face mask display at Innisfree Newsagents in Belfast last week

The current restrictions on household mixing are to remain. That means no mixing of households in private dwellings, with exceptions including those joined in social bubbles, and gatherings in the gardens of private dwellings limited to six people from no more than two households.

The majority of the measures will come into force on Friday.

A further seven deaths with Covid-19 and another 863 cases were reported by the Department of Health on Tuesday.

Some 6,286 new positive cases of the virus have been detected in the last seven days, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 21,898.

As of Tuesday, there were 150 patients in hospitals with Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care.

The Derry and Strabane Council area has been experiencing the highest infection rate in the UK and Ireland, with a seven-day average of 970 cases per 100,000 people.

The area is already subject to additional localised restrictions.



Source link

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More