Boris Johnson to force Greater Manchester into coronavirus lockdown after local leaders reject new financial offer

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Andy Burnham
Mayor Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester outside the Central Library in Manchester, England, on Thursday. MARTIN RICKETT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is set to impose tough new coronavirus restrictions on Greater Manchester after local leaders rejected their latest offer of financial support.

  • Mayor Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester declined the government's offer of an additional £60 million in support, falling short of his previous demands of £75 million and £65 million.

  • UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the two sides had failed to come to an agreement.

  • The government is now set to follow through on its threat to impose the restrictions without an improved financial offer.

  • Burnham scolded Johnson's government in a press conference on Tuesday, telling reporters: "Are they playing poker with peoples' lives during a pandemic? Is that what this is about?"

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to force Greater Manchester into England's highest tier of coronavirus restrictions after the UK government failed to come to an agreement with local leaders about the size of financial support required for the area.

Mayor Andy Burnham and other Greater Manchester representatives had initially demanded £75 million in support, which they later reduced to £65 million, but were offered £60 million by the government.

Johnson's government then withdrew its offer, the BBC reported, meaning it is now set to follow through on its threat to impose the restrictions on the city region.

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick on Tuesday said in a statement: "I'm disappointed that, despite recognizing the gravity of the situation, the mayor [of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham,] has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.

"I have therefore advised the prime minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement."

Johnson was expected to hold a press conference later Tuesday to confirm the new restrictions set to be imposed on Manchester. They are set to be in place for at least 28 days. 

Speaking in his own press conference in Manchester this afternoon, a visibly-angry Burnham said the financial support he asked Johnson's government for but was denied "wasn't about what we wanted, it was about what we needed" and said: "It's just get what we give you and that is unacceptable in a pandemic and a national crisis."

He said he needed more money from Westminster to prevent people in Greater Manchester from falling into poverty, telling reporters: "What we've seen today is a deliberate act of leveling down... Are they playing poker with peoples' lives during a pandemic? Is that what this is about?"

"I've fought with everything I've got for the people on the lowest incomes in the city region," Burnham said.

 

The new rules for Manchester mean people there are barred from meeting members of other households indoors.

All pubs not serving substantial meals, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centers, and soft-play areas will be forced to closed. Schools will remain open, however.

Manchester joins nearby Liverpool and Lancashire in the UK's most serious tier of local lockdown restrictions, with the northwest of England continuing to one of the worst affected regions in the country for new cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations.

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