Deadline looms over Manchester to impose more stringent Covid-19 curbs

A woman walks past as an artist works on a mural during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester, Britain

According to media reports, the UK government has given the Mayor of Manchester until Tuesday midday to reach a deal over moving to tier-three or the strictest Covid-19 restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson informed Mayor Andy Burnham of the deadline after ten days of negotiations that failed to reach an agreement.

Burnham and other Manchester leaders have been holding out for further financial support for businesses and workers affected by entering the highest restrictions.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick added that the Greater Manchester region’s situation is deteriorating, and the government had no choice to act.

“There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined,” the Metro newspaper quoted Jenrick as saying.

“But, unfortunately, despite recognizing the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control.”

Speaking to Sky News, Business Minister Nadhim Zahaw said he hoped Burnham will accept the government’s package, warning that “the real risk” is that the region will have “no ICU beds left” by the first week of November as infections continue to rise.

Commenting on the development, Mayor Burnham said that he would work with other regional leaders ahead of the deadline to suggest “setting out what we think is a fair figure,” given they have already been living under restrictions for three months, the Metro newspaper reported.

He also called for “full flexibility over that funding” to ensure it goes to those who need the most support once the lockdown measures come into force.

The UK reported 18,804 new Covid-19 cases, which increased the overall infection tally to 741,212, while the death toll stood at 43,726.

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