Wigan to be in Tier 3 after national lockdown

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The Government confirmed on Thursday morning that the borough will face the toughest restrictions from December 2.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the decision in parliament while the Government website provided details of which tier each area will be in.

All 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester will be in Tier 3.

This means residents cannot meet anybody not in their household or support bubble indoors or in gardens, and must observe the rule of six in some outdoor public spaces.

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Wigan will be in Tier 3 after the current national lockdownWigan will be in Tier 3 after the current national lockdown
Wigan will be in Tier 3 after the current national lockdown

Hospitality venues can only offer takeaway or delivery services and hotels and other accommodation, as well as indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close.

However, personal care is now allowed and non-essential shops and gyms can open, with communal worship, weddings and outdoor sports also able to resume.

All of Lancashire is in Tier 3 but the Liverpool City Region, which was the first area to have the toughest restrictions in place before the current national lockdown began, is in Tier 2.

A postcode look-up tool allowing residents to find out which area they will be in appeared shortly before Mr Hancock was due to speak but quickly crashed.

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A written ministerial statement said Greater Manchester was in tier 3 because weekly case rates remain high even though they are declining.

The statement particularly pointed out the case rate among over 60s was around 260 per 100,000 people.

There is also some concern about continuing pressure on certain hospital trusts in the city-region, though Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was not one of them.

Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.

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The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels were based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.

How quickly case rates are rising or falling were also be taken into account, as was local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.

The final decisions were made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Covid Operations Committee, the Government said.

Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

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“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”

Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the armed forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said that although infection numbers in the city-region were still high, the rates were falling.

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He hoped that trajectory would enable Greater Manchester to leave Tier 3 as soon as possible.

However, he slammed the Government for not announcing any extra support for businesses in Tier 3, saying they would only receive the same as firms in Tier 2 areas.

He warned this could have a particularly devastating impact on the hospitality industry.

Mr Burnham said: "Greater Manchester’s infection rate is reducing faster than any other part of the country but we have to accept that it is still significantly higher than the England average. That said, if the current rate of improvement continues, we will be asking the Government to move our city-region into Tier 2 in two week’s time.

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"What we believe is completely wrong is the Government’s decision to provide no additional business support to areas in Tier 3 than those in Tiers 1 and 2.

"The new Tier 3 will hit the hospitality sector extremely hard. While there are grants for businesses forced to close, there is no extra support for business which supply them like security, catering and cleaning.

"This will cause real hardship for people whose jobs will be affected and risk the loss of many businesses."

Greater Manchester night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord tweeted: "Tier 3 is yet another hammer blow for hospitality in Greater Manchester. Another day of the Governments game of carrot and stick. Our R rate is plummeting thanks to the public. Let's see if they try to point score again, as we head nearer Tier 2. We will keep fighting."

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Business organisation the CBI North West said the announcement resulted in a very mixed picture, with some retail firms now looking forward to reopening and a potential recovery while the survival of other businesses was left "hanging by a thread".

The reimposition of the tier system in England comes as scientists warned easing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic and another lockdown.

The Prime Minister urged the public to “think carefully” over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to form a Christmas “bubble” from December 23 to 27.

Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the relaxation of restrictions over the festive period could lead to more people being admitted to hospital and further lockdown measures in the new year.

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