Greater Manchester has moved to Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions, following an announcement by the government.
The new measures will officially come into force at 00:01 am this Friday.
Days of wrangling between the national government figures and local leaders, including Metro Mayor Andy Burnham, have finally come to an end – and they have failed to reach an agreement on a coronavirus support package for businesses and employees across the region.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that not moving the region to Tier 3 would put a greater number of lives at risk and made a ‘generous’ financial support package but Burnham had refused it.
Under Tier 3 rules pubs and bars not serving substantial meals have to close. Also, household mixing is no longer allowed indoors or outdoors in private gardens and other hospitality places. Many other entertainment venues will also be closed.
The general public are strongly advised not to travel to-and-from these regions.
The North West is the only place in the UK that has Tier 3 restrictions in place. Greater Manchester follows Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, who are already under the new rules.
Commenting on the news that Greater Manchester will be in Tier 3 with a substantially reduced financial package, Chris Fletcher, Policy Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “This news comes as a bitter blow to the whole of Greater Manchester, its businesses and its residents. The huge difference from what has been given to what was needed seems a petty act of political sabotage on a regional economy by the government.
“There has been a concerted effort by everyone right across GM to make clear to government why extra funding was a necessary factor to support a move to Tier 3. GM has been in Tier 2 type measures since July and increasing numbers of businesses are struggling with dwindling cash reserves, the imminent ending of furlough and a huge drop off in sales. The fact that we have ended up in Tier 3 with just £22m and the PM confirmed that a business support package of £55m was removed will not only create concern but genuine anger and distrust towards this government.
“It is vital that people follow the rules. The fact is that the virus must be brought under control however this will become increasingly challenging as the weeks progress if further funding isn’t brought forward and a more sensible and realistic approach taken by government .”
Damian Waters, CBI North West Director, said: “National unity is essential to maintaining the confidence needed to help our economy, and compliance to reduce rising infection rates. So it’s deeply disappointing to witness divisions between local and central government, which have hindered Greater Manchester businesses’ ability to plan for the challenges ahead.
“Businesses will hope to see local and national leaders bury their differences and work in tandem to support both firms and individuals through the winter.
“Business knows public health must come first, and recognises that getting a grip on rising infection rates is vital to maintain confidence and avoid further restrictions in the months ahead.
“Yet there is no escaping the impact of additional restrictions across tiers 2 and 3. Firms in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, leisure and tourism – and their supply chains – have seen only a limited recovery from the earlier lockdown, and fresh obstacles could prove fatal for some. Additional financial support must therefore be made available as a matter of urgency to protect people’s livelihoods.
“Clear communication and transparent evidence for new restrictions is essential. And firms will want to see criteria for a tangible pathway to the timely easing of these new restrictions.”
CBI VIEW ON SUPPORT FOR AREAS MOVING INTO TIERS 2 AND 3
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “Any restrictions which mandate business closures, whether local or national, must be joined in lockstep by financial measures which protect livelihoods during what is certain to be a difficult winter.
“Additional funding must be made available to local authorities, who are best placed to ensure it reaches those who need it most. Employers reeling from new restrictions are struggling.
“While the Government’s job support scheme has provided a bridge from furlough, more flexibility regarding employer contributions may be needed to help firms survive the winter.
“Without such support, the Government risks undermining its levelling-up ambitions and deepening economic inequalities.”