16 December 2020 20:31

Andy Burnham Lancashire Coronavirus

Andy Burnham says 'clear case' for Greater Manchester tier 2

A new report has detailed the huge contrast in fortunes between Liverpool and Manchester's high street recoveries - due to the two cities' differing levels of Government restrictions. The Liverpool City Region was placed into Tier 2 earlier this month, allowing many parts of hospitality to reopen following the second English lockdown, with both indoor and outdoor events also allowed to resume. Greater Manchester, which has been subject to tougher coronavirus restrictions since the summer, remained in Tier 3 despite the protestations of local business leaders and politicians. A new report has been released by the Centre for Cities, covering the end of the national restrictions in England and the initial impact of Tiers 2 and 3, and appears to show the detrimental impact the restrictions have had on Manchester in particular. The early December footfall recovery for Liverpool was at 48% of its pre-pandemic levels, while the same figure for Manchester stood far below that - at 30%.

The divide was clear in the evening too, with footfall rising to 41% of February levels, compared to 18% in Manchester city centre, as people stayed away. Sign up for your free BusinessLive North West newsletter BusinessLive is your home for business news from around the North West- and you can stay in touch with all the latest news from Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria through our email alerts. Visit our email preference centre to sign up to all the latest news from BusinessLive. Valentine Quinio, researcher at Centre for Cities, who worked on the High Streets Recovery Tracker, said: "Manchester's lower footfall reflects its higher tier of restrictions. But, as vaccines roll out and the pandemic hopefully gets under control, the big question for all cities in 2021 will be how much has people's behaviour changed permanently, and what does that mean for our high streets?" A tier review decision is expected on Thursday, which could see Greater Manchester put into Tier 2.

On Wednesday, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the region had a "clear case" for being moved down - and that people in the region were feeling "ground down" after four and a half months of coronavirus restrictions. But he said the region now had lower infection rates than both Liverpool and London when they were put in Tier 2 after the national lockdown. "We have a very changed picture today than when the first tiering decisions were made a few weeks ago, so we're hoping the government will make evidence-based decisions today," he said. He tweeted on Monday: "Our indicators in Greater Manchester are now lower than many other regions that are in Tier 2. Elsewhere in the report, it said that cities placed under Tier 2 on average recovered footfall faster than cities placed under Tier 3, with the average recovery score for Tier 2 cities at 60% of pre-lockdown levels, against 53% for Tier 3 cities.

London, which entered Tier 3 on Wednesday, remained in the bottom 10 at 30% of pre-lockdown levels of activity, despite having been in Tier 2 initially. The Mayor of Greater Manchester is calling for the region to be placed into tier 2 today. Andy Burnham said there was a "clear case" for his region being moved down to Tier 2 as the Government is due to formally review what tiers are appropriate for each area. Whereas Tameside is recording the lowest coronavirus infection rate in Greater Manchester with a rate of 97.6 per 100,000 people. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have seen steady decreases across all of our boroughs pretty much ever since the last tiering decision, to the point where we are now essentially below the England average across the 10 boroughs – we are at 150 cases on average per 100,000 people, England averages 180.

"We are below London and below Liverpool when they went into Tier 2 originally." He added: "I accept the national mood has changed since those decisions were taken and I can also understand if the Government were wanting to err on the side of caution. This afternoon Andy Burnham will hold his latest press conference on the Covid-19 situation in Greater Manchester. They will be providing the usual updates on Covid data across the ten boroughs, including infection rates, hospital admissions, care home outbreaks and how we compare to other parts of the country. It comes as ministers are poised to make a decision about which tier Greater Manchester will be placed in for the coming fortnight - with some local authorities pushing to be placed into tier 2 and others wanting to stay as they are. The mayor and Sir Richard are both keen for the whole conurbation to have restrictions relaxed, however, although most figures spoken to by the M.E.N. believe government is most likely to leave us as we are. Leaders are also likely to have comments on the easing of social mixing restrictions over Christmas, which looks set to go ahead despite pressure from some quarters to amend the relaxation promised by government. There may also be further comment on improvements planned at Greater Manchester Police, in the wake of a damning inspection from Her Majesty's Inspectorate last week. Speaking ahead of a review into the government's Covid-19 tier restrictions, Mr Burnham said most residents would opt for the "steady-as-she-goes" approach through Christmas and the New Year and see the area downgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2. His comments come as sterner warnings are expected to be issued by the four UK nations on the dangers of mixing over Christmas - although sources say the rules allowing three households to mix between December 23 and December 27 are unlikely to change. Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If the choice today was, for me, Tier 2 with a more modest Christmas, I think most people in Greater Manchester would say 'Absolutely, we will go for that steady-as-she-goes approach through Christmas and the New Year'. Asked what people should be doing at Christmas, Mr Burnham feared that the closure of hospitality in a "blanket way" such as in London will create more social gatherings at home and create the most spread of the virus. He said: "A month ago I said the balance wasn't right here, we were adopting something of a feast-famine approach of very strict restrictions to allow too much loosening over Christmas – I still stand by that. "There's another reason I would just put into the mix – if we place cities in Tier 3 through this period, particularly around the New Year, I think the closure of hospitality in a blanket way will create more social gatherings at home and that's what the experts say to us creates most spread of the virus. "I think a more sensible approach will be Tier 2 with a more modest Christmas." Mr Burnham said people should be thinking about changing their Christmas plans and not travelling to see relatives. "I think it is potentially difficult now to change the plans that people have made. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said there is a "clear case" for the region being eased into Tier 2 as ministers formally review the restrictions across England. More than 34 million people, or 61% of England's population, were living under the strictest measures after London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire moved into Tier 3. On Wednesday, a Government committee was to review how appropriate the tiers are for each area, with a formal announcement billed for the following day. Mr Burnham argued ahead of the review that Greater Manchester should exit the most stringent restrictions, which would allow pubs and restaurants some freedom to reopen, but said he would understand if the Government took a more cautious approach. He said there have been "steady decreases" across all of the region's 10 boroughs and its average rate is around 150 cases per 100,000. "We are below London and below Liverpool when they went into Tier 2 originally," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "I accept the national mood has changed since those decisions were taken and I can also understand if the Government were wanting to err on the side of caution. Tier 3 was imposed on Manchester on October 23 after Mr Burnham and local politicians including a number of Conservatives fought to oppose the restrictions. Speaking at an online press conference on Wednesday, Mr Burnham said he had not had any conversations with the Government ahead of the decision. He said: "Our boroughs have given indications to the Government, so those have gone in. Mr Burnham said it was possible different boroughs within Greater Manchester could have different levels of restrictions. He added: "If the Government does not want to put Greater Manchester as a whole in Tier 2, particularly given the fact a couple of our boroughs are above the national average or close to it, we do still believe there is a very strong case for a substantial part of the city region to be placed in Tier 2. "We would ask the Government to give regard to the fact we have been under restrictions for four-and-a-half months, that would mean five months by the next review period."