Despite the UK government and authorities in Manchester failing to come to an agreement on bumping the city into the highest tier of the country’s new COVID-19 alert system, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions will be imposed on Greater Manchester from Friday at 00:01 BST (11:01 GMT).
UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has stated that it was a “great shame” that no consensus was reached with Greater Manchester’s officials.
Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley, Jenrick said that the “very clear public health advice” London got from the National Health Service “was that this was a serious and deteriorating situation in Greater Manchester and we needed to act”.
“The important message to people in Greater Manchester is… we’re going to do everything we can to support people and businesses. We’ve put in place a very extensive package of support and that is there to help them through a challenging period”, he said.
Jenrick continued on by claiming that Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was “adamant he had to have a better deal” than in Liverpool.
“I completely understand that as a leader of the city, you want the absolute best for your local residents. But as a government, we have to act with fairness and be proportionate to what we’re doing elsewhere in the country,” he added.
The statement comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that on 23 October at 00:01 BST (11:01 GMT on 22 October) Greater Manchester would be placed in Tier 3, entailing the strictest COVID-19 restrictions, along with the Liverpool and Lancashire regions of northwest England.
“Unfortunately an agreement wasn’t reached and I do regret this”, Johnson noted, stressing that the government has made a “generous and extensive offer'” to support Greater Manchester businesses, adding that the mayor had declined.
According to reports, Andy Burnham asked the government for 90 million pounds ($117 million) to help Manchester citizens get through the winter, and had been willing to accept 65 million pounds. The mayor also accused Johnson’s government of walking away from negotiations.
On October 12, Johnson introduced England’s new three-tiered lockdown system as the country faces a second-wave COVID-19 outbreak. London was placed in Tier 2 (high alert), on 17 October. The UK capital had previously been in Tier 1, the lowest alert level, and the new measures have introduced a ban on indoor social gatherings among members of different households.
Tier 3, the highest alert level, bans all household mixing and forces pubs and bars that do not sell food to close.
In Liverpool, the first UK city to be placed under Tier 3, gyms, casinos, bookmakers, and pubs have been closed since 14 October.
The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care on 19 October confirmed that the country’s official case total and death toll currently sit at 741,212 and 43,726, respectively.