How Manchester has reacted to the Tier 3 restrictions

Jamie Johnson
·5 min read
Aashni Shah - Jon Super 
Aashni Shah - Jon Super

Greater Manchester has entered Tier 3 restrictions after an almighty row between Andy Burnham and the Government.

Mr Burnham said ministers were not willing to agree to a £65m business support package to keep Manchester's businesses running.

It appears the city will receive much less than that - but Downing Street says they will have access to other funds in the future.

Mr Johnson said it would not have been fair to give Manchester funding that was "out of kilter" with other regions that have received support.

Mental Health

Aashni Shah has battled with anxiety, depression and OCD for nearly a decade and fears that the new restrictions will lead to physical and mental burnout.

The 22-year-old Manchester Metropolitan University student lives on her own and has not seen her family, who are back in India, since last Christmas.

Her resilience, she says, “is depleting”.

As a Tier 3 restrictions come in, “I think I won't have the strength to cope with it. I think I'm probably just going to shut down,” she told the Telegraph.

The first lockdown was a challenge, and Ms Shah only left the house once a month for supplies. But towards the end of summer, things were looking up, as she ventured out for dinners with friends and enjoyed walks in the park.

But now she fears going back to “square one”.

Having previously volunteered for Manchester Mind, she says: “everyone is in a survival mode and just trying to just keep themselves safe, but I think once the pandemic is over, we're going to have a wave of mental health difficulties.” 

Pubs and Bars

Mark and Elaine Wrigley  - Atlas Bar
Mark and Elaine Wrigley - Atlas Bar

Elaine and Mark Wrigley, who own Atlas Bar, in the railway arches of Deansgate say they have lost all confidence in the Government.

“I voted for the conservatives last time round. But only Andy Burnham is fighting for businesses,” said Elaine.

“On Friday, we brought in all of our staff and said that regardless of the new furlough scheme offering 67 per cent, as has been reported, we will top that up to 80 per cent.

“That’s not because we’re rich - it’s because it’s the right thing to do.”

The bar, which has won prizes at the Great British Pub Awards, does not serve food and will now have to shut.

The owners do not know when it will reopen.

“We have already had to make people redundant. We have people relying on us for an income, but we don’t know when this will end,” said Elaine.

“The city centre is on its knees, but we will do our best to battle through and I hope we can reopen. ”

Casinos

Jon Duffy, Senior Vice President of Corporate Assurance & Regulatory Affairs at Genting Casinos told the Telegraph: “The closure of our venues across the Greater Manchester area is yet another kick in the teeth for our business, at a time when we are fighting for survival. 

“What is most frustrating is the fact that we know our environments are safer than those found in other industries which are being allowed to stay open. We know of no outbreaks linked to casinos and have implemented meticulous covid secure measures to keep customers and colleagues safe. 

“It is heartbreaking to have to send yet more colleagues home with no clarity as to when they may be able to return to work. These are mums, dads, husbands, wives, all trying to provide for their families. 

“It is an ongoing nightmare for the business as a whole, and on a personal level for all of those affected. The decisions being taken have huge ramifications and yet don’t seem to be based on evidence as to which environments pose the greatest risk.”

Gyms

Sarah Morrison, 29, the owner of the Little Box Gym in Chorlton, Manchester
Sarah Morrison, 29, the owner of the Little Box Gym in Chorlton, Manchester

In February, the Little Box Gym in Chorlton saw 200 people come through its doors every week. Now there are only 30 at best.

While gyms have escaped being forcibly closed in Manchester, Sarah Morrison still worries that the reduced footfall won’t be enough to keep her business afloat.

“People still aren’t going out much, and with tighter restrictions, they’ll be going out even less,” she told the Telegraph.

“Gyms should remain open everywhere. They are there for the people. They help with anxiety and depression and as we saw with the first lockdown, people suffered without them.

“If we remain open but with few clients, I worry about the finances because we won’t receive support.”

The move to keep Manchester’s gyms open has proven controversial as they were forced to shut in nearby Liverpool when they went into Tier 3.

“There needs to be consistency. There is no reason gyms should be shut in Liverpool but open in Manchester,” said Ms Morrison.

Salons

General manager of the House of Evelyn Hair and Beauty salon in Manchester, Georgina Barnes, has worked in the beauty industry for the past 45 years, but says “I’ve never worked so hard in all of my life trying to keep a salon open. 

"Every day it feels as if we are squeezing the last drop out of a towel that has already been wrung. I feel at a loss.”

Since the threat of Tier 3 lockdown measures in Manchester were first introduced, the salon was quick to feel the effects of customers being more reluctant to travel into town for hair and beauty treatments.

While salons are not expected to close in Tier 3, 56-year-old Barnes believes that having a full lockdown "would be a better solution for us." 

"Keeping us open, while shutting other businesses that we feed in to means we are left with no customers coming through the door and no financial support from the government.”

In the lead up to Christmas, the salon would operate with six hairstylists who would be fully booked all day long, this has been dramatically reduced by Covid safety measures and further by the proposed tougher coronavirus measures in the city which are already having a devastating impact on Barnes’s business.