Lockdown chaos for Greater Manchester

Peter Stoddart, YCL Student Officer

Across England, different areas are going into local lockdowns according to the Government’s new tiered alert system which ranks areas according to medium (1), high (2) and very high (3) risk.

Greater Manchester looked poised to join Liverpool in Tier 3 this week. However, it has emerged that the Government failed to communicate this with any politicians in the North before going to the press. Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton reported that he found out about the proposed changes from Sky News. Not satisfied with aggravating Northern Labour MPs, the Government went one further as Tory MP, William Wragg condemned the Government

Highlighting how badly the Government have handled this, Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan North, tweeted “there was total unity from Conservative and Labour Greater Manchester MPs on the call with the Minister this morning. We will support evidence based interventions with adequate financial support. We will not support this chaos.

Mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, told the BBC that that there was “No discussion. No consultation. Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government.

These testimonies highlight the Government’s disdain for the North despite all their rhetoric. No HQ in Leeds will shift this, and no amount of so-called ‘Red Wall‘ seats will ever change their views.

Tier 3 measures involve pub closures and different households being banned from mixing indoors or outdoors. Despite forcing premises to close, the Government have yet to agree a financial package to support small businesses forced to close fuelling further anger among local MPs and Assembly Members.

YCL Manchester Branch Secretary, Khalid Talati, said the situation was “very indicative of how London-centric our economy is. The government doesn’t care about the huge number of small businesses up here and the people employed by them.”

Talati commented on the rising rates of infection and noted that further restrictions were likely necessary however, he said “Working people can’t afford it.  We need furlough and we need the government to help support local economies outside of London.”

Elsewhere in England, London was moved into Tier 2 restrictions along with Essex and York and other areas. Restrictions include a ban on households mixing indoors, although hospitality venues will remain open. Many argue these restrictions highlight the Government’s prioritisation of profit over public safety.

Meanwhile in Scotland, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish Government would be adopting a similar tiered alert system. Scotland is currently under a ‘circuit-breaker‘ lockdown for two weeks and many are calling for similar to be adopted throughout Britain.

In Wales, travel restrictions come into force on Friday evening and the border will be closed to stop people travelling from COVID hotspots. First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced extra patrols to enforce the ban which Jacob Rees-Mogg described as “unconstitutional”.

Nearly 20,000 new cases of the Virus were announced yesterday across the UK.

Peter Stoddart

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