20 Oct Coronavirus: Tier 3 talks lined up for Yorkshire, the North East, Teesside and Nottinghamshire | Politics News
Talks will take place over the introduction of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in South and West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that further discussions will be held this week over whether the areas should go into England’s highest COVID-19 alert level.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “Following the successful introduction of measures in Liverpool and Lancashire, talks are continuing this afternoon led by the Communities Secretary (Robert Jenrick) with Greater Manchester.
“And this week further discussions are planned with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.”
It was later revealed that Monday’s talks between Mr Jenrick and Greater Manchester leaders had failed to reach an agreement on Tier 3 restrictions, with the two sides having been involved in an increasingly bitter political row in recent days.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is demanding further financial help for businesses that would be affected.
But he earlier warned he was “not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque”.
“We’ve always said we’ll put people’s health first and we will do that, but health is about more than controlling the virus,” he said.
After the talks, a government spokesperson said: “A meeting between government and local leaders in Greater Manchester has concluded this afternoon following discussions throughout last week, over the weekend and this morning on measures necessary to protect the public.
“Disappointingly, we have still not been able to reach an agreement. This is particularly concerning against the backdrop of rising cases and hospitalisations in Greater Manchester.”
And, in a hint that ministers could consider imposing Tier 3 restrictions in Greater Manchester even without the agreement of Mr Burnham and other local leaders, the spokesperson added: “We are carefully considering next steps.”
Downing Street had earlier on Monday not dampened suggestions further areas could be added to Tier 3, as coronavirus infections rise once again in the UK – with 18,804 more reported on Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman revealed discussions about moving places out of the Tier 2 list were already going ahead with local politicians.
Meanwhile Sarah-Jane Marsh, the director of testing for NHS Test and Trace, said the rate at which COVID-19 patients were “filling” hospital beds, according to an NHS CEOs WhatsApp group, had made for “uncomfortable reading”.
“The NHS CEOs WhatsApp Group is uncomfortable reading tonight as friends and colleagues share the rate at which Covid patients are filling NHS in-patient and ITU beds against a much busier backdrop than March/April #protectheNHSsavelives,” she tweeted.
One MP whose constituency could potentially be affected by new restrictions said he was “not that optimistic” they would escape fresh measures.
Barry Sheerman, who represents Huddersfield in the House of Commons, told YorkshireLive: “I hope against hope that we are not going to go into the third tier but I’m not that optimistic.
“And I still think it’s inevitable that we have a circuit breaker over the half-term. I would rather that we have a short, sharp shock than not tackling it seriously.”
York Central MP Rachel Maskell said several days ago: “I do not believe that the measures in Tier 2 will be sufficient to stop the spread of infections in our city.”
Nottingham currently has the highest two-week case rate in Britain, with 1,310 infections per 100,000 people.
Watch and follow ‘Postcode Lockdown: A Divided Nation’ on Sky News from 9pm on Monday, as it examines which strategy is best for Britain