Greater Manchester to get tier 3 Covid restrictions imposed after talks fail


Boris Johnson looks set to impose the strictest coronavirus restrictions in England on nearly 3 million people in Greater Manchester after a last-ditch attempt to strike a deal ended without agreement.

The communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced the talks had ended after several hours of fraught negotiations came down to a dispute over £5m in funding – or £1.78 per Greater Manchester resident, the Guardian understands.

In a statement nearly two and a half hours after the midday deadline for a deal set by the government on Monday night, Jenrick said: “I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the mayor of Greater Manchester has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.

“I have therefore advised the prime minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement.”

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.
  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.
  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.
  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.
  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.
  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.

Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

The extraordinary development brought to an end an increasingly fractious 11-day standoff between Johnson’s government and northern leaders, severely undermining the core purpose of the three-tier lockdown system that was designed to simplify the rollout of restrictions across England.

It means scores of pubs, bars, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas will close in Greater Manchester for at least 28 days. It is not clear when this will come into force.

The talks dramatically collapsed barely two hours before the prime minister was expected to hold a Downing Street press conference announcing the restrictions.

It is understood Jenrick abandoned the negotiations after several hours of haggling with Andy Burnham, the Greater Manchester mayor, and his 10 council leaders, after setting a deadline of midday on Tuesday to reach a deal.

The government had offered Greater Manchester a £60m support package. However, this fell £15m short of the proposal put forward by Burnham and the council leaders earlier in the day.


The Greater Manchester leaders agreed to reduce their request to £65m but this was rejected by Jenrick shortly after 2pm, effectively killing the negotiations.

Johnson had repeatedly insisted it was vital to agree a deal with local leaders to ensure their support for the strict public health measures and to improve compliance.

Allen Brett, the leader of Rochdale council, said he felt “let down that they’ve imposed something on us for the sake of five million quid”. He added: “We were negotiating in good faith. For five million quid I think this is crazy.”

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, described the collapse of talks as “a sign of government failure”.

“The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, north-west and north-east, and their leaders with contempt,” he said.

“Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support. Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

William Wragg, the Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in Stockport, said: “The sense of failure is overwhelming. I shall avoid political comment until I have heard [the health secretary] Matt Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons this evening. Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office.”



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