Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to force Greater Manchester into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions in England after the British government failed to reach an agreement with local leaders on the size of financial support required for the region.
Mayor Andy Burnham and other Greater Manchester officials initially asked for £ 75million in support, which they later reduced to £ 65million, but were offered £ 60million by the government.
Johnson’s government then withdrew its offer, the BBC reported, which means he is now ready to follow through on his threat to impose restrictions on the city area.
British Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said in a statement on Tuesday: “I am disappointed that, despite acknowledging the gravity of the situation, the mayor [of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham,] was unwilling to take the necessary steps to contain the spread of the virus in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.
“I therefore informed the Prime Minister that these discussions were concluded without an agreement.”
Johnson was due to hold a press conference later Tuesday to confirm the new restrictions that were to be imposed on Manchester. They should be in place for at least 28 days.
Speaking at his own press conference in Manchester this afternoon, a visibly angry Burnham said the financial support he requested from Johnson’s government but was refused “was not about what we wanted, but what we needed ”and said,“ It’s just getting what we give you and that’s unacceptable in a pandemic and a national crisis. ”
He said he needed more money from Westminster to keep the people of Greater Manchester from sliding into poverty, telling reporters: ‘What we have seen today is a deliberate race to the bottom. … Are they playing poker with people’s lives during a pandemic? Is that what it is about? ”
“I fought with everything I had for the lower income people in the city area,” Burnham said.
The new rules for Manchester mean people are not allowed to meet members of other households inside.
All pubs not serving hearty meals, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centers and soft play areas will be forced to close. The schools will however remain open.
Manchester joins Liverpool and nearby Lancashire in the most serious level of local lockdown restrictions in the UK, with north-west England continuing in one of the worst-hit areas in the country for new cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations.