Greater Manchester will not level down today.
Announcing slight changes to the allocated tiers today, Matt Hancock has announced that Manchester will remain in the strictest tier 3 – the tier which will force hospitality businesses to remain closed over the usually busy Christmas period. Much of the region has been subject to tightened restrictions since the summer, with tier 3 rules being placed on the region back in October. Since then, the people of Greater Manchester have been under the strictest regulations in the nation – with pubs and restaurants severely affected as a result of forced closures. Speaking to the House of Commons, Hancock said: “We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now.”
“As we enter the coldest months we must be vigilant and keep this virus under control.
“Yesterday 25,161 cases were reported and there are 18,038 people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK. We must keep suppressing this virus. And this isn’t just a matter for Government or for this House, it is a matter for every single person and these are always the most difficult months for people’s health and for the NHS.
The news comes following Boris Johnson’s public address yesterday, where he confirmed that the Christmas bubble plan would be going ahead – urging people to have a “merry little Christmas” – ‘little’ being his keyword. The Prime Minister also said he felt it would be “inhuman” to ban Christmas celebrations. As the national infection rate continues to creep up, the Prime Minister also suggested that people avoided seeing their elderly relatives until they were vaccinated, and also asked people to reconsider travelling from a high-prevalence to a low-prevalence area.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast ahead of the announcement, Mayor Andy Burnham said: “It’s clear a mistake has been made over Christmas. I have to say I did say it at the time, that it was allowing too much. My worry is they’re now about to overcompensate with the decisions on the tiers.
“We will see but it will be very hard on people here who’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get into a much better position, and actually I think the time has come to allow at least part of Greater Manchester to be released from those (Tier 3) restrictions.”
The Mayor had also previously urged the government to consider splitting the region into tiers, with only a few boroughs still over the national average following the November lockdown. Burnham said: “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.”
Here’s a reminder of the key rules for tier 3 areas:
- you must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with – this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of 6’
- hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
- accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close.
- indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close (including bowling alleys and cinemas).
- leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.
- avoid travelling outside of your area, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.
Changes for the areas that have moved tiers come into force 12.01am on Saturday, December 19.
When will it be reviewed?
The current tier allocations are reviewed every 14 days, meaning that we should get another update between December 30 and January 1st.
How does it affect Christmas?
The Tier rules will not affect the Christmas bubble period (23-27th December), however, you will be required to follow the rules appropriate to your allocated tier outside of that time period. This will include New Year’s Eve – when, unfortunately, bars and restaurants will not be permitted to reopen in Greater Manchester.