Boris Johnson confirms Greater Manchester will be forced into Tier 3

David Dixon / Geograph

It has been confirmed this afternoon that Greater Manchester will move into Tier 3 under the government’s new three tier coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions scheme.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the move a few with a £22 million support package.

Under Tier 3 rules, pubs and bars that do not serve “substantial” meals must close, with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas also required to close doors.

Different households will be banned from mixing indoors and outdoors, including in private gardens, and travel in/out the area is also advised against.

Gyms and certain fitness facilities have however been permitted to remain open.

The Tier 3 restrictions for the region will come into force from 00.01am on Friday 23rd October.

With some confusion then arising surrounding the support package, Mr Johnson was asked in a follow-up question if he’s only offering £22m to Greater Manchester and retracting the tens of millions more reportedly offered? He says he regrets having to impose restrictions on people, but he has to look at the data and it shows “I have to act”. 

The £22m is “additional to other support – we’re always happy to consider that”, he clarifies, without explicitly saying if he’s offering more or not, and further stated that “we wanted a deal” and “that was the best way forward”. 

On the question of exactly how much money the region will get, he says he’s described “some of the funds already on the table”, but that “other discussions undoubtedly will continue”.

Mr Johnson closed out the press conference emphasising that “we’re walking a narrow path” to avoid a second national lockdown, but on a final note of hope, he says universities have “done a great job” of getting the virus under control. 

He added: “The R is currently above 1 but it’s not that much above 1.

“If we all follow the guidance together… then I’ve no doubt that we can drive it down particularly in those badly affected areas.”

Greater Manchester now joins the Liverpool City Region under Tier 3 restrictions and the neighbouring county of Lancashire, which was also recategorised from Tier 2 to Tier 3 last Friday.

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Greater Manchester’s Tier 3 Saga: A Breakdown

This afternoon’s official announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Greater Manchester is to enter Tier 3 restrictions concludes a lengthy saga surrounding the categorisation of the region, as local leaders have refused to accept Tier 3 status without improved financial support.

Yet another meeting earlier this week ended in a deadlock, with the government imposing a deadline on the region to strike a deal by midday on Tuesday.

According to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, last-gasp discussions to settle a deal broke down this afternoon.

Andy Burnham has repeatedly pushed back the government’s attempts to turn GM into a Tier 3 region without “adequate support”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham addressed the people of Greater Manchester live just prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement, where he attacked the government for refusing to offer an extra £5 million in support to help the region through Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions.

He said the government “walked away” from negotiations about financial support, after refusing to offer enough money to “prevent a winter of real hardship” for the people of Greater Manchester.

He also emphasised that: “We took this stand for you. We will carry on fighting for you. We will carry on putting your health first, but health is more than the virus. We will support people’s health in the broadest possible sense.

“So tough days lay ahead [but] please, everybody, observe the law at all times and follow the public health advice.

“Above all else, please look out for each other, as I know you will.”

Entrance to Manchester Piccadilly Station – Gerald England / Geograph

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously warned that he would need to “intervene” if an agreement wasn’t reached, claiming tighter measures were needed to improve the “deteriorating” health situation in Manchester.

Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese have previously accused the government of using “selective” data to “raise public concern”, claiming that ICU’s in Manchester were not currently overwhelmed.

Last week, senior cabinet members Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock both made public appeals for Greater Manchester to work alongside the government to find a solution, with Raab accusing Burnham of holding ministers “over a barrel”.

Burnham maintained that getting a “fairer” deal was “about more than just Greater Manchester” – claiming many more regions would need better deals whenever they were upgraded to Tier 3; a development he considered “likely” ahead of winter.

Now, after much verbal sparring, it has been confirmed that Greater Manchester will be placed under the tightest restrictions as part of the ‘very high’ alert level.

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For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.

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