Greater Manchester left in limbo over coronavirus restrictions

No decision has yet been made as to whether Greater Manchester will be placed under the severest coronavirus restrictions.

A meeting took place between the government and Greater Manchester leaders on Thursday morning (15 October) following reports that the region was heading for Tier 3 restrictions and the 'very high' Covid alert under the system introduced this week. 

Amid conflicting reports, it's understood that no agreement was reached and that no extra financial support was offered by the government.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) said in a coronavirus update in the House of Commons at around 11.30am that "no further decisions have yet been made" on places currently under Tier 2 where Tier 3 had been proposed but discussions are "ongoing" and "rapid progress" has to be made. 

It's understood that further meetings will take place on Thursday afternoon regarding the position of Greater Manchester - which includes Tameside and Oldham - as the situation remains chaotic and confusing. 

Mayor Andy Burnham told a press conference on Wednesday that he would consider 'legal action' if a Tier 3 lockdown was 'imposed' on Greater Manchester, without a promise to pay more than two thirds of furloughed workers' salaries.

Currently, Greater Manchester is under the Tier 2 'high' Covid alert - which means mixing of households indoors is not allowed, the rule of six and social distancing applies to private gardens and outdoor spaces, while pubs and restaurants can remain open, but no mixing of households is allowed inside and the 10pm curfew is in place. 

But if Tier 3 was imposed, it would mean the following: 

  • No mixing of households indoors and outdoors, including in private gardens
  • Pubs and bars to close
  • Restaurants, and pubs that can operate as restaurants, allowed to stay open
  • No wedding receptions
  • Local politicians will decide if gyms, betting shops, casinos, hairdressers and beauty salons should close
  • Non-essential shops, schools and universities to remain open
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Travel outside area advised against
  • Avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if resident in a Tier 3 area
  • People resident elsewhere should avoid staying overnight in a Tier 3 area

MPs have said there was unanimous anger on Thursday morning's call about the evidence for the proposals and economic support. 

Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds tweeted after the meeting had concluded to say what the government had offered. 

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon described the meeting as "absolutely pointless". 

His sentiments were also echoed by Denton MP Andrew Gwynne:

The latest figures from Public Health England show that Greater Manchester's seven-day rate of positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is 357.6 up to 10 October - up from 327.8 on 3 October. 

In Tameside, the rate as of 10 October was 296.3 - up from 237.5 on 3 October, while in Oldham, the rate was 374.5 - up from 270.3 the previous week. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did announce that London, Essex, Embridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash, Chesterfield and York will move into the Tier 2 of restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday.

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