Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Manchester hit with extra Covid-19 restrictions as Johnson govt accused of ‘playing poker with people’s lives’

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People wearing face masks walk past the Central Library amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester, Britain October 19, 2020. © REUTERS/Phil Noble
London gives Covid-hit Manchester Tuesday deadline to accept tier-three lockdown, as leaders accuse govt of ‘spinning’ data

In his comments, Johnson indicated that Greater Manchester would get £22 million in support for affected industries such as hospitality, although it’s not clear if an earlier pledge of £60 million was still in play.

Greater Manchester leaders had originally requested £90 million in funding, before revising the figure to £75 million, and then £65 million, which Burnham said was the “bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship.”

A passionate Burnham expressed his anger to reporters outside Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall where, in a bizarre moment, he appeared to find out about the Tier 3 restrictions and the £22 million figure from an aide’s mobile phone.

Addressing the media, he asked: “Is this a game of poker with people’s lives?”

Are the government trying to put pressure on people to take as little as they can possibly get away with?

Johnson said the “generous” financial package offered to Greater Manchester was “proportionate” to the offers for the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire – the only other areas of England under Tier 3 rules.

The Liverpool City Region secured £44 million in Covid-19 Tier 3 support and Lancashire £42 million. It is therefore unclear what offer the PM was referring to with his “proportionate” comment.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was involved in the negotiations, blamed Burnham for the failure to reach an agreement, accusing him of being “unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control.” 

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