‘We will not accept Tier 3’: Andy Burnham rejects government’s new lockdown restrictions

  • Mayor of Manchester says forcing regions into Tier 3 is 'wrong'
  • Demands continued furlough scheme of 80%
  • Calls for national 'circuit break'

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, outlinined his fierce opposition to the government’s new three-tier system of lockdown restrictions today.

At a virtual press conference held with the Metro Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, Mr Burnham took aim at the government’s latest lockdown restrictions for the north of England.

Liverpool is the first city to be placed into Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions enforced by the government since lockdown began to ease in June.

The Liverpool City Region currently has the highest rate of Covid-19 of anywhere in the country, with cases being as high as 700 per 100,000 people.

Greater Manchester also has high rates of the virus, this week recording an infection rate of 357 per 100,000 of the population.

Manchester Borough currently is the worst affected in the region, with a rate of 449, largely due to the high numbers of students being forced to self isolate in their halls of residence.

Mr Burnham condemned the government for “pressuring” Liverpool into tier 3, saying that insufficient support has been offered from Westminster.

He believes it is “morally wrong to impose tier 3 in its current form” and stated that Greater Manchester “will not accept it”.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchseter,                                     Picture: GMCA

Mr Burnham was also vocal in his opposition to the localised tier systems, accusing the government of “penny-pinching” and “passing the buck” to local councils.

He said: “Tier 3 is a blatant act of levelling down”, said the Mayor, who fears a bleak winter with parts of the north potentially “trapped in tier 3”.

Mr Burnham put forward a set of proposals to Westminster on Friday including demands for a furlough at 80%, as well as a self-employment support scheme, also at 80%.

The Mayor has also asked for increased regional autonomy in the NHS’ controversial test-and-trace system.

As the current regulations stand, only those regions placed in tier 3 have been granted access to manage test-and-trace.

Mr Burnham has asked that all local regions be given control over the system. He believes this will minimise the transmission of covid-19 cases and prevent accentuating regional divides, as well as improving the national situation for the winter.

During the press conference, the mayor repeatedly expressed his support for a national “circuit break” lockdown similar to the one imposed in Northern Ireland this week.

He believes this will give local authorities the chance to fix any issues with test-and-trace.

Mr Burnham, along with the other nine leaders of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), back the notion of a “circuit break” rather than regional restrictions.

“A ‘circuit break’ will allow the chance for the nation to reset for winter”, he said.

He confirmed that Manchester’s coronavirus numbers are rising daily, but at rates “much lower than those of Liverpool or Nottingham”.

A meeting was scheduled to take place later today between the GMCA and the deptuy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries.