The Prime Minister has refused to rule out a national lockdown as he announced Greater Manchester would moved into Tier 3, despite the protestations of its council and Mayor Andy Burnham.
Responding to question from a member of the public during this evenings press conference live from Downing Street, Boris Johsnon said he was trying to avoid a national lockdown – but is not ruling it out.
The PM was asked how many areas would need to be under the highest tier of restrictions before a national lockdown is imposed.
In response to the question by a member of the public – Jake from Chester – Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press briefing: “What we are trying to avoid is a national lockdown at all.
“We don’t rule anything out but the difficulty is that the distribution of the virus this time round is very uneven by comparison with March and April.
“And so the right response is, as many other countries are doing, to go to this local and regional approach.”
Mr Johnson went onto say: “Despite the failure to reach an agreement I hope the mayor and council leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with us to implement these measures.”
He confirmed that conversations are ongoing with leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and the North East about the possibility of moving to the very high alert level and said: “I hope and expect central and local government will continue to work closely together.
“Ultimately all of us want to protect the NHS and in doing so to save lives.
“As we act, I don’t want anybody to think that your actions, our actions, are in vain.
“This evening… I can announce that Greater Manchester will move to the very high alert level.
“That means that pubs and bars must close, unless they are serving substantial meals, households can’t mix in doors, or in most outdoor settings.
“In some public outdoor spaces groups must be limited to the rule of six.
“And, we strongly advise against travel into and out of the area.”
The leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said local leaders twice thought they had an agreement with the Government on a financial support package, only to be let down.
“In the discussions we have had over the last couple of days we have thought twice they were going to be able to meet us in being able to support that package,” he told a news conference with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
“Twice when it has got to the end of the day they have let us down and they are letting the people of Manchester down.”
Sir Richard said they had still not seen anything in writing from the Government on what conditions it was seeking to attach to any additional funding.
During a press conference, Mr Burnham was shown a message saying £22million would be given to the region and restrictions would come into force on Friday.
He said: “It’s brutal, to be honest.
“This is no way to run a country in a national crisis.
“It’s not right, they should not be doing this.”
“Even the money that they were talking about we still have no idea what conditions they would attach to that money.
“Is this a Government committed to levelling up this country?
“What we have seen today is a deliberate act of levelling down.”