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Greater Manchester: Burnham condemns ministers as tier 3 talks collapse

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent
·5-min read

Greater Manchester is facing “a winter of real hardship” including business closures, job losses and homelessness after the government dramatically walked out of talks over the implementation of England’s strictest coronavirus regulations, Andy Burnham has said.

Addressing the media in central Manchester, Greater Manchester’s mayor condemned the government’s “game of poker” approach to the negotiations as tier 3 measures looked set to be imposed on the region of 2.8 million people.

Burnham said Greater Manchester’s 10 council leaders had asked for £65m from Boris Johnson’s government, which he said was the “the bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship here that is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship to prevent homelessness”.

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He said Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, walked away from the talks at 2pm after refusing to increase the government’s offer of £60m.

Burnham said it had turned into a “game of poker with people’s lives” and the government’s actions amounted to a “deliberate act of levelling down”.

To cheers in central Manchester, the mayor said he was still willing to do a deal with the government but he added: “It cannot be on the terms that the government offered today because on those things I could not meet the commitments I made to people on the lowest incomes, to people who are self employed, to the freelancers in this city, who need our support, I could not do it on those terms.

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.

  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.

  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.

  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.

  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.

  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.

  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.

  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.

  • Schools and universities remain open.

  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.

  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.

  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.

  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.

“How can we carry the public with us through this pandemic if we are forcing them to lose their income, their place of work, without supporting them through that? How is that going to help people … to fight this virus?

“Finally I don’t believe we can proceed as a country on this basis through the pandemic, by grinding communities down, through punishing financial negotiations. We are asking a lot of the public at this difficult time. And we need to carry them with us, not crush their spirit. We need national unity.”