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Greater Manchester mayor hopes 'to be out of tier 3 in two weeks'

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionAndy Burnham said although infection numbers in the area were still high, the rates were falling

Greater Manchester's mayor said he hopes the region will only face the toughest government coronavirus restrictions for a couple of weeks.

Areas with the highest infection rates, including Greater Manchester, will go into tier three when lockdown ends.

Mayor Andy Burnham said that, although cases of coronavirus were still high locally, rates were declining.

He said if they continue to fall "we will be making the strongest possible argument" to be moved to tier two.

The area's tier level may change before Christmas with a review scheduled for 16 December.

The new tier rules will come into force on Wednesday. In tier three, people can only meet other households in outdoor public spaces like parks, where the rule of six applies.

Gyms and close-contact beauty services like hairdressers will be able to open but in tier three, pubs and restaurants can only operate as a takeaway or delivery service.

Mr Burnham said: "I feel for people who have been living under restrictions for a long time now," and called for additional support for businesses.

"The new tier three will hit the hospitality sector extremely hard. While there are grants for businesses forced to close, there is no extra support for business which supply them like security, catering and cleaning.

"This will cause real hardship for people whose jobs will be affected and risk the loss of many businesses."

image captionGreater Manchester's night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord

In October, Mr Burnham was involved in a lengthy public dispute with the government over Greater Manchester being placed in tier three and the level of financial support.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the battle had been "bad for public health" and ruled out negotiations with local leaders in favour of a formula to decide which areas are placed in what tier.

Greater Manchester's night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, said: "We're in tier three and we're not surprised".

But he added "the R rate is dropping rapidly, so it does feel like if we carry on like this, we could be in tier two shortly".

Tier three (very high)

  • You can't mix with other households indoors, or in private gardens and pub gardens
  • You can meet in a group of up to six in other outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or countryside
  • Hospitality venues - such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close, except for delivery and takeaway services
  • Spectator sports cannot resume
  • Indoor entertain venues - such as bowling alleys and cinemas - must close
  • People are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas

William Wragg, Conservative MP for Hazel Grove, said he will "most likely be voting against these measures".

"What I've been pushing for is for the different boroughs in Greater Manchester to be treated separately given the range of data that we have about the prevalence of the virus," he said.

UnitedCity - a group of business leaders across Manchester- said the news was "a massive blow to hospitality, leisure, culture, events and sports businesses based in the region".

"Data has clearly shown that cases of the virus were starting to fall before the November lockdown, so for restrictions as harsh as the 'new' tier three ones are to be placed upon us does feel somewhat rancorous."

image copyrightEPA
image captionInfection numbers in Greater Manchester are falling

Karen Hill, a hairdresser in Oldham, said she is glad she can reopen but she expects business to be quiet: "I do feel better that we can open, but because there's not going to be Christmas dos, it's not going to be our normal December.

"No-one's going to be going anywhere in January and February, so we're not going to have the new year, new me."

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