The Prime Minister confirmed the government will step in and impose Tier 3 restrictions even without agreement from local politicians.
Yesterday Greater Manchester was placed in Tier 2 of the new Covid Alert system, avoiding the tightest restrictions. This meant there were few changes to the local lockdown rules that were already in place.
People from other households can now mix in private gardens but mixing with other households indoors is prohibited. Pubs and restaurants are allowed to remain open despite concerns for their closure.
Last night Boris Johnson issued a warning that the government will ‘do whatever we think is necessary over the next few days and weeks’, adding that the rules would be put in place whether there was backing from local authorities and mayors or not.
He said: “We want to take local authorities with us. Obviously a local approach can be immensely valuable.
“In enforcement, the local knowledge of the area, the places where the virus may be transmitted, local activity in closing down people who are transparently breaking the rules, local enforcement, local test and trace.
“These can be fantastically powerful.
“We want to work with local authorities to deliver this, that’s why we are offering the deals and the solutions that we are.
“But if we can’t get agreement then clearly it is the duty of national government to take the necessary action to protect the public and to protect public health and we will.”
Boris also claimed that the government came to an agreement with the only area placed in Tier 3, Liverpool City Region and its metro mayor, Steve Rotherham. In the area, gyms, leisure centres, casinos, and betting shops will all close from Wednesday.
However, Rotherham has denied this. He wrote on Twitter that ‘it was the government that decided we needed local restrictions in our area… it wasn’t local leaders and it’s disingenuous for them to indicate otherwise’.
Boris confirmed last night that increased funding for local test and trace facilities plus the enforcement of new rules in areas put into Tier 3 would be offered.
He said: “It’s absolutely correct to say we’re working with local authorities across the country, but particularly with those badly affected regions that everybody knows about in the North West and the North East, Yorkshire and so on and trying to work with them to support a collective package of measures”
“I was very pleased that Steve Rotheram of the Liverpool city region came forward with a package, we’re helping him. And the offer is that, to all local leaders who are facing problems, big increases in the infection rates, we will help to support more local test and trace, more enforcement and so on.
“We stand ready to work with local government at all levels.
“Clearly as a national government we have to think about our primary duty which is to save life and protect the NHS and we will do whatever we think is necessary over the next few days and weeks.”
It has yet to be confirmed what would trigger an area moving into the highest alert level, Tier 3.
Andy Burnham has explained that he was ‘glad the government has listened and that putting Greater Manchester in Tier 2 is the ‘right decision’.
Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn
The next six months look tough.
The next six months are set to be ‘very, very difficult’, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Professor Jeremy Farrar has said the next three to six months will be a ‘very, very difficult’ period but the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is effective Covid-19 treatment which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
Speaking on Sky News, Prof Farrar said that a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed. He explained that there could currently be 50,000 cases a day.
He said: “The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.
“Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.
“It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.”
When asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prof Farrar added that a short national lockdown will be best to reduce transmission rates. he added that the best time to put this in place would have been September 20th but that ‘it was never too late’.
He said: “The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.
“So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.”
Last chance to claim £6,750 government grant for self-employed workers
Everything you need to know…
Self-employed Income Support Scheme pays up to £6,750 to the tens of thousands of self-employed people – but the scheme ends today.
Tens of thousands of self-employed people have until midnight tonight to apply for a support grant from the government of up to £6,750.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to businesses that earn less than £50,000 a year.
The taxable payout is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits and will be paid to those qualified in a single instalment.
The grant is capped at £2,190 a month meaning the maximum you can claim is £6,750 in total.
You will need to apply before midnight tonight (October 19th, 2020) with confirmation your business has been impacted since July 14th by the pandemic.
To be eligible you must have been self-employed before April 6th 2019 and filed a tax return for 2018/19 to HMRC.
More than half of your total income must come from self-employment and your profits must not exceed £50,000.
The new Wythenshawe Community Grocery that lets people do a weekly shop for just £3
The Community Grocery store in Wythenshawe lets shoppers stock up their fridge for just £3.
The shop is from the people behind The Mess Cafe which employs and trains ex-offenders and aims to bridge the gap between expensive supermarkets and food banks.
The store is stocked full of food donated from local suppliers and supermarkets with a drastically reduced priced.
Local businesses such as R Noone & Son, FareShare and local branches of Tesco and The Mess Cafe’s regular suppliers have all also been donating food to the new grocery store.
The local community has celebrated the new shop that allows people who are left in vulnerable positions due to the pandemic shop with independence and dignity.
The Mess Cafe provides training and employment to ex-offenders but due to the pandemic was forced to close.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s efforts, The Message Trust began to prepare healthy meals for children who were missing out on school lunches – sending out a total of 60,000 meals.
The affordable grocery store idea was born after the team realised more and more families and individuals were being pushed closer to the poverty line due to the pandemic.
Ellie Dickinson from The Message Trust spoke to the MEN: “Initially it was just for children who weren’t in school any more but would have qualified for free school meals, and then we realised there were vulnerable families who weren’t at work, or isolating, or just couldn’t afford to go shopping.
“It made us realise that there was a real need for more than just hot meals – often people couldn’t afford their weekly shop.
“The Community Grocery is touching on two points – it’s a low-cost food shop that still gives people that agency, and no one feels like they’re going to a food bank.
“I think that is quite hard for a lot of people, if they get to that stage.
“Because it’s a shop, each week they can actually choose what they want. They’re not just given a box without knowing what’s in it.
“It’s actually a really aesthetically pleasing shop too – it looks like Ancoats General Store which just adds to the experience!”
The Community Grocery project has a £5 annual membership fee which allows members to receive job workshops, career advice, mental wellbeing courses plus help on writing CV and working on computers.
Following that it’s just £3 per food shop and members are able to visit twice a week.
Depending on supplies each week, the amount of food available to each member changes. The most recent week’s shopping list included; five pieces of fresh fruit or veg, two bread items, five canned or boxed items, two freezer items, two fridge items, four different ‘best before’ items (close to the best before date but still safe to eat), one ‘non-food item’, and two potted plants.
Ellie added: “There have been so many people in the local community who have said ‘Look, I don’t need this, but I’d like to cover someone else’s membership’. It’s been lovely.
“There’s been a real outpouring of support that we didn’t expect.
“We initially did a soft launch for the people we were delivering meals to during lockdown – they were our priority.
“But they spread the word and now we’ve got over 200 members and queues down the street! It’s been wonderful.”