The British government has confirmed it has offered Greater Manchester’s leaders more financial support, in a bid to impose a tier-three lockdown. Mayor Andy Burnham, however, is holding firm in opposing tougher restrictions.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said there was now a need for the local leaders in Greater Manchester, including the mayor, to show “flexibility” and come to an agreement regarding a tier-three lockdown, as Covid-19 cases in the city have soared.

“I’ve offered local leaders a range of things that they would like, whether that’s greater control over local tracing, use of the armed forces, or whether that’s more resources for local councils,” he said. 

In response to his comments, the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, said that “nothing had changed” and that he was yet to see a financial package he was happy with.

I’m not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque; this is about properly supporting those people whose lives will be damaged by tier three.

Jenrick said earlier that the health situation in Greater Manchester is very serious, and that a tier-three lockdown agreement with local leaders needs to be reached as soon as possible.

“Delay will only make the situation worse, will only put people’s lives at risk, and will only make the economic fallout of the city worse in the long term,” the minister said.

He emphasized the health crisis in the region, as Covid infections rates in the north-west of England are substantially higher than in the south. He noted that intensive care units (ICU) were at full capacity in Salford, with other hospitals in Greater Manchester reaching similar levels. 

Speaking on Monday, Dr. Indy Kapila, an intensive care consultant with the British Medical Association, also told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ program that Greater Manchester could soon run out of intensive care beds.

“We do still have capacity currently, but given the infection rates in Manchester – we have about 440 cases per 100,000, which is extremely high – we are very concerned that we may reach a situation very soon where intensive care beds will run out,” he added.

By comparison, when a tier-two lockdown was announced for London last Thursday, the city’s infection rate was 97 per 100,000 people.

Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced his three-tier Covid alert system on October 12, local leaders in Manchester have stood firm against the imposition of a tier-three lockdown – which signifies a “very high alert” – on the northern city. The mayor of Manchester had previously described the plan to move the city into a tier-three lockdown as “flawed” and “unfair.”

The coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the UK, with 16,982 new cases and 67 new deaths reported on Sunday.

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