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Andy Burnham warns Greater Manchester ‘won’t accept new lockdown system drawn up behind closed doors’

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Andy Burnham has warned that Manchester will not accept a planned three-tier lockdown system without seeing it first. 

His view is shared with many other leaders in the north, who warned that local lockdown restrictions are ‘not working’ and are confusing and ‘counterproductive’.

My Burnham has said that local leaders have not seen details of the new proposal which splits lockdown into three varying degrees.

Ministers were expected to announce the move to the new ‘traffic light system’ today or tomorrow, but it looks like the plans have been held up, the Manchester Evening News reports.

David Dixon/Geograph

Alongside Sir Richard Leese, Mr Burnham laid out a number of conditions at the weekly press conference. 

He said they have both had conversations with other leaders and now want to provide ‘some messages to government, so that we do this in the right way and learn from some of what we’ve been through so far’.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “The first point I would put down as a clear request to the government is they must open meaningful negotiations with mayors and leaders about these matters.

“We do have the odd conversation here and there with ministers.

“But we need proper discussion. We will not have a tier system imposed upon us without us having the ability to see and agree the detail. That is just a prerequisite.”

David Dixon/Geograph

Mr Burnham’s concerns echo those raised in a letter sent from Sir Richard Leese, Leeds council leader Judith Blake, Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes and Liverpool’s mayor Joe Anderson to the health secretary Matt Hancock yesterday.

Appropriate financial support to reimburse businesses, local authorities and communities affected by any potential economic measures was called for in the letter. Similarly, Mr Burnham said this was essential.

He said: “Any tier system – or indeed any potential restriction, and as you’ll know there’s a lot of scepticism here and across the north about what they can achieve – but any new system has to come with a substantial support package for councils, for businesses, but also for the individuals that are affected by those decisions.

“Let me particularly talk about any potential tier three, where non-essential retail and hospitality would probably be closed, or could be closed.

“We cannot have a repeat of the situation we saw in Bolton, where people behind bars or in kitchens were basically told from one day to the next that they had no job to go to or local furlough scheme to fall back on.

“That is simply unacceptable.”

“I would not accept any closure of businesses without the employees of those businesses having the ability to access a furlough scheme.”

Following the confirmed 500 job losses at Manchester Airport, Mr Burnham once again called for an extension of the national furlough scheme for specific sectors that cannot get up and running any time soon, including live entertainment and aviation.

He added that ministers need to provide clear exit routes for areas hit by any new measures. 

David Dixon/Geograph

It is yet to be confirmed whether there will be new restrictions in the north following the reports of high and rising coronavirus cases.

Currently, the infection rates in Manchester are being driven by university students and are not said to be translating to the older demographic. 

Yesterday it was revealed that pubs and restaurants could face closure from Monday in the north of England due to rising infection rates. 

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Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens

The violence spilled out into the street

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A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.

Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.

The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.

Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.

Peter McDermott / Geograph

Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.

Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.

This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.

Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.

And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.

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Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June

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Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.

In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.

One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.

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Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.

“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”

According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.

Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.

He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). 

There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.

The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.

“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”



It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.

“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”

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Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters

It follows weeks of allegations against the PM

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No10 / Flickr

According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.

The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.

The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.

No10 / Flickr

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him. 

“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections. 

“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”

No10 / Flickr

The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.

However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.

Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.

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