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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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Greater Manchester Nightingale Hospital open again due to high levels of coronavirus

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The Nightingale Hospital for the North West will open later this week and house non-Covid patients.

The temporary facility to treat patients with Covid-19 opened originally in April but has been closed in summer. 

However, later this week it is set to reopen for non-Covid patients.

It is set to reopen as figures show the number of coronavirus patients being treated in the North West is now approaching the level it was in the first surge of the virus.

A spokesperson said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will accept patients from today to provide care for those who do not have Covid-19, but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social care assessments.”

As of October 26th, North West hospitals had 2,407 patients with coronavirus, the highest number of cases since April 23rd.

Dr Jane Eddleston, medical director of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Nightingale will not be used as a critical care facility and neither was it in the first phase. It will be used as a facility for patients to have additional rehabilitation.”

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Sacha Lord says 10pm curfew will be reviewed next month

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David Dixon/Geograph & SachaLord/Twitter

Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, has said the government will review the 10pm curfew in November. 

All hospitality venues must shut their doors at 10pm under current laws, however, Sacha Lord and other industry members have been campaigning the curfew.

Since September 24th, when the curfew was put in place, the #CancelTheCurfew movement has been backed by a number of industry professionals.

The Parklife founder, Lord, filed a pre-action letter last night which claimed there was no scientific justification of the Tier 3 regulations and the limits on pubs and bars operating hours. 

Lord has tweeted that the government ‘are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew’ in November.

He wrote: “In November, the Government are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew.

“It doesn’t work for the public or operators.

“Overloaded transport, crowded takeaways, supermarkets etc.

“It’s doing far more harm than good. Operators are running safe and secure COVID19 venues.

“Cancel the Curfew”

Lord confirmed they had a formal response from the government regarding the judicial review where he said ‘we consider it insufficient’.

He added “I cannot go into detail, but I can say that we have considered it and it is insufficient. I have instructed my lawyers to commence legal proceedings.”

Lord is now backing the OneGM campaign, which sees different sectors of the industry coming together to show support for businesses and people in Greater Manchester. 

It is unclear yet when Greater Manchester will be removed from Tier 3 restrictions.

 

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Dr Hilary backs calls for tier 3 restrictions across all of England by Christmas

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Dr Hilary has responded on GMB this morning to reports that the whole of England should be in tier 3 by Christmas. 

It comes following some reports that all of England could be placed under the strictest coronavirus restrictions by mid-December. 

The UK deaths hit their highest level in five months on Tuesday, when 367 new fatalities linked to coronavirus and nearly 23,000 more cases were recorded.

The Sun explained that SAGE member, Professor Sir Mark Walport said it is ‘not unrealistic’ to think that 25,000 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.

With total Covid related deaths reaching 61,000 across the nation, there are predictions that figures will be higher than the Spring peak come December.

Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Body (Sage) are reportedly warning that virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas in the North already.

A government source also told The Sun ‘the latest Sage numbers are utterly bleak.’

According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Downing Street is working on the assumption that the second wave of COVID-19 will be more deadly than the first.’

From next week parts of Nottinghamshire and Warrington will be placed into Tier Three.

This means that more than eight million people in England, predominantly in the North, will be under the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions by the end of the week.

The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, told Sky News: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.

“But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will become Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.

“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”

Dr Hilary Jones spoke on Good Morning Britain this morning explaining that a vaccine ‘won’t stop a rise in infections’.

Jones said: “Just look at the figures, the hospital admissions are increasing, doubling every two weeks. In a month from now, we’ll be worse than we were in the first wave.”

He said: “We can’t rely on a vaccine, we hope it will save people from dying but it won’t stop infections, not the early vaccine anyway.”

Adding that: “I think we still need to rely on the basic principles which is hands, face, space and if we all do that and we’re realistic and don’t say Christmas is an exception.

“If we make Christmas an exception, then every celebration will be an exception. A birthday, a Friday night, a promotion…” 

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