Greater Manchester mayor demands rethink on approach to local lockdowns

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The Mayor of Greater Manchester has claimed the Government is in danger of losing public support for its approach to local lockdowns without an urgent rethink of the policy

Andy Burnham has called on the Government to open negotiations with mayors and local leaders across the country on the proposed new “three tiers” policy for restrictions.

He believes the new approach could improve public understanding of the restrictions imposed in different areas during the coronavirus pandemic.

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But he has today warned it will not be acceptable if the policy is imposed by Whitehall without meaningful consultation.

Andy BurnhamAndy Burnham
Andy Burnham

Mr Burnham, who was previously MP for Leigh, has set out five key conditions on which he believes the new system will need to be based if it is to command public trust and support.

These are:

Clear thresholds for entry/exit from the different tiers

The ability for areas in tiers two and three to request local control of the Test and Trace system, with resources transferring from the national system

Agreed levels of extra financial support for councils in tiers two and three

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A package of support for businesses affected by local restrictions

A local furlough scheme where businesses are required to close

Mr Burnham said: “Without urgent change, the north of England will be thrown into one of the most difficult winters we have ever experienced, with the risk of significant harm to health and our economy. It’s that serious.

“We are heading into the winter months with a Test and Trace system which is still not working and the risk of redundancies rising sharply as the furlough scheme comes to an end. Without extra support for individuals, business and councils, it could be a winter of dangerous discontent.

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“I remain ready to work with the Government to build public support for its approach to local lockdowns, but that requires meaningful consultation and proper support for the areas affected. That is not happening at the moment.

“We have now reached a point where there is a real risk of the Government losing the public in the North because of the perceived unfairness of its local lockdown policies. We can’t let that happen. There is still time to put in place better measures to protect communities across the North this winter but time is running out.”

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