13 Oct Coronavirus: ‘Gold’ summit to discuss raising alert level for Greater Manchester and Lancashire | UK News
A “gold command” meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss whether Greater Manchester and Lancashire should be reclassified and put on “very high” alert, Sky News understands.
If a change is to be made, it would put both areas into Tier 3 of the government’s new lockdown system.
Sky News correspondent Inzamam Rashid said: “It may not mean Tier 3 restrictions are imminent, but a Number 10 source tells me they are ‘concerned’ about Greater Manchester and Lancashire so discussions at the top need to take place.”
“Their decision to place these regions in the Tier 2 category on Monday was a surprise given the high cases and also hospital admissions”, he continued.
“It feels like if the spread of the virus isn’t suppressed in these two areas soon, they will enter Tier 3 and that could be a huge blow to the hospitality sector.
“It would mean that almost 3,100 pubs would shut along with 475 gyms. This would devastate tens of thousands of livelihoods.”
Disappointing that the Government is piling the pressure on GM in this way without negotiating.
It risks confusing people coming so soon after the Tier 2 announcement.
Our view is unchanged: unfunded restrictions are unfair & will cause real damage to lives, jobs & businesses. https://t.co/g4ahFZArul
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) October 13, 2020
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has said the government is “piling pressure” on the area “without negotiating”.
He added in a tweet on Tuesday: “It risks confusing people coming so soon after the Tier 2 announcement.
“Our view is unchanged: unfunded restrictions are unfair and will cause real damage to lives, jobs & businesses.”
It comes as Merseyside leaders have hit back at suggestions they “kowtowed” to the government as they prepare for strict restrictions to be brought in.
On Tuesday, the leaders of the six authorities in the Liverpool City Region and metro mayor Steve Rotheram said they were continuing to negotiate with the government for a better funding package to support businesses such as bars, pubs, gyms and betting shops – which will be forced to close from Wednesday under the new Tier 3 measures.
The day before, Boris Johnson told a Downing Street news conference that the government had “agreed” with Mr Rotheram to introduce some of the measures, but he said: “What has been portrayed as a negotiation between us and them (the government) was anything but.”
“Since the Prime Minister’s statement in the House yesterday, I have had people accusing me of selling our region down the river, or of letting people down”, he continued.
“If anyone’s unhappy about pubs and gyms closing, blame the mess the government have made of their handling of the crisis.”
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “This belief that we kowtowed to the government, this was forced upon us and we were weak and allowed government to do what they wished upon us – the fact of the matter is we knew, and it was leaked in The Times, that we were being put in Tier 3.
“The government have decided what measures are in Tier 3, not me, not any of the leaders.”
Meanwhile, more than 75,000 people have signed a petition to prevent gyms being closed in Liverpool. However, Mr Anderson has distanced himself from the move, replying to a Tweet, saying it was a “government decision not ours”.
Me on Saturday to No 10 officials “Gyms are safer than supermarkets, more COVID-19 transmissions come from our schools and retail than Gyms” response “we are not closing schools or restricting retail, so we can only go for Hospitality & leisure.“
Government decision not ours! https://t.co/MdHbbeCx74
— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) October 13, 2020
Health officials in the city say they expect to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals there surpass the levels of the first peak, in the next seven to 10 days.
Councillor Paul Brant, cabinet member for adult health and social care at Liverpool City Council, said there were around 277 people with the virus in hospital – compared to around 400 during the pandemic’s first wave.
Around half of the intensive care beds across the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are currently occupied by those being treated for the virus.
He said: “What will happen is they will stop the elective surgery, stop diagnostic procedures and stop screening services in order to free up beds that would otherwise be used for that activity, to ensure that any sort of surge capacity in relation to COVID is accommodated.”
As there is not a temporary Nightingale hospital in the area, Mr Brant said wards in the half-built new Royal Liverpool Hospital were utilised as overfill capacity for patients during the first wave.
On Monday, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Steve Warburton told staff in a memo that it had reached a “critical point”, and that the trust was scaling back planned procedures.
He said that it was “taking a phased approach to reducing our elective programme, while exploring options with other providers to maintain some of this work in alternative locations”.
“We will continue to prioritise surgery based on clinical need, with a view to maintaining urgent and cancer surgery where possible”, he added.
“We will continue to maintain access to outpatient appointments wherever possible, and maintain diagnostic activity.”