Government forces Greater Manchester into Tier 3 lockdown

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government forces Greater Manchester into Tier 3 Coronavirus lockdown Andy Burnham Boris Johnson

Related tags: Manchester, Coronavirus, lockdown, Restaurant, Public house

Greater Manchester's Coronavirus alert level will be raised to 'very high' from Friday (23 October), Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.

It will become the first region of the UK to have the highest level of restrictions, which will see the majority of pubs and bars in the area forced to close, imposed upon it without a financial package in place to support businesses.

The decision will affect 1,809 pubs in Greater Manchester, according to real estate adviser Altus Group, and will mean that one in 10 pubs in England - nearly 4,000 - are now mandated to close.

"Not to act would put Manchester's NHS and many lives [across the region] at risk," said Johnson, in a press conference this afternoon (20 October).

It comes after talks between Westminster and the leaders of Greater Manchester on a financial support package for the region, which have been going on for more than a week, ended dramatically earlier today​ (20 October) without a deal reached. 

Speaking earlier this afternoon, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he was demanding £65m in financial support as a 'bare minimum' to top up the furlough pay of workers whose businesses are shutdown as a result of the lockdown. 

The Government has announced it will make a further wave of furlough support available, which will cover two thirds of workers’ wages up to £2,100, but this has been slammed​ by both industry voices and Conservative MPs for not going far enough to protect those on minimum wage.

Burnham has accused the Government of 'walking away' from the talks having had its offer of giving the region's leaders £60m rejected. 

"This is no way to run the country in a national crisis," he said.

Johnson confirmed that region will receive £22m in support, although this is a baseline per head figure for Tier 3 areas to help with Test and Trace and enforcement of restrictions.

The Prime Minister failed to say whether any extra support for businesses would be forthcoming, but Downing Street has since said that the £60m offered today does remain on the table, subject to discussions.

Under Tier 3, the majority of pubs and bars will be ordered to close and social mixing between households will be banned indoors and outdoors.

However, restaurants and any pubs or bars that are able to 'operate as if they were a restaurant' and serve 'substantial' meals will be allowed to remain open.

So far, only Liverpool City Region and Lancashire have faced such restrictions.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls described Greater Manchester's move to Tier 3 as 'another huge blow' for the sector, and a 'very bitter disappointment' for hospitality businesses in the city.

Many parts of the region had already been subject to lockdown rules not dissimilar to those imposed under Tier 2 for the past two months, and Nicholls highlighted that upping restrictions will only increase the pressure on those businesses.

“We need a practical and workable package of support for the whole of Manchester’s hospitality sector in order to keep these businesses afloat and jobs alive,” she said.

“Jobs, once lost, are not always easily revived and businesses closed not easily reopened.

“Furthermore, there must be a clear roadmap out of Tier 3 – a clear set of criteria of what must be achieved to lower the alert level, and what support will be there upon lowering it, so that businesses can do all the planning possible to stay afloat. Job support for those businesses currently in Tier 2 must also be much more comprehensive, to help businesses survive and to cushion the transition out of Tier 3."

Meanwhile, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Authority (NTIA), said the restrictions placed on Greater Manchester deepens the crisis for the region's businesses, with growing concerns over the survival of the hospitality and night-time economy sector.

"We support Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester and the leaders of the major cities across the country in a call for further support from Government and a collaborative effort to save businesses and jobs within the sector," he said.

"Businesses and workers remain desperate and frustrated, it is clear that without a robust sector specific financial package of support under Tiers 2 and 3, we will see the sector collapse and the loss of over 754,000 jobs.

"Restrictions levied against night-time economy businesses are disproportionate, and have no scientific foundation around measures being effective in suppressing the transmission of the virus within these environments."

"Business owners, employees and freelancers within our sector are suffering, this will have a far reaching impact on the future of the industry."

The Prime Minister added that discussions on moving to Tier 3 continue with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Nottingham.

Related topics: Legislation

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