World Boris Johnson Presses Manchester to Accept Stricter Covid Rules
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(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson forced Greater Manchester into the U.K.’s strictest coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday after his noon ultimatum for the region to accept a deal passed without agreement.
The prime minister spoke to Mayor Andy Burnham to urge him to accept the curbs on Tuesday as the noon deadline passed, but they failed to reach a deal on financial support for businesses and individuals affected by the crackdown.
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The move takes Manchester to so the highest level of restrictions, including the closing of pubs and bars and bans on all mixing of households.
“I’m disappointed that despite recognizing the gravity of the situation, the mayor 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,” Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said in a statement. “I have therefore advised the prime minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement.”
The government’s ultimatum shows how far Britain’s response to the pandemic has fractured along. Labour’s Burnham and other local politicians resisted pressure from Johnson’s Conservative ministers for the region to be moved into the highest level of localized lockdown amid concerns about the impact on the region’s economy.
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Burnham had the support of local MPs from Johnson’s own party who also want to avoid the strictest curbs.
According to the premier’s spokesman, James Slack, Johnson told a meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday morning the government has “sought to work constructively with leaders across Greater Manchester” adding “the stark reality is that there are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester Hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined.”
Ministers offered 22 million pounds ($17 million) to the region, equivalent to 8 pounds per capita, with “additional support” equivalent to that offered to areas which have already accepted the higher level restrictions, Slack said.
Johnson is keeping to his strategy of targeted measures aimed at virus hot spots and has resisted calls for a coordinated national lockdown.
Burnham says the imposition of stricter restrictions on his region will have a devastating impact on its population, particularly low-paid workers, if there isn’t more government support.
Earlier Tuesday Burnham told BBC radio he would “try to be positive and respond, and see if we can find a way forward” despite the “slightly provocative move” by the government to impose the noon deadline.
Before Manchester, only Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, also in northwest England, had come under the tightest restrictions, in each case with the agreement of local leaders.
The controls, Tier 3 in Johnson’s three stage system of curbs, mean a ban on households mixing, including in private gardens or outdoor hospitality settings, while pubs and bars are forced to close unless they serve meals.
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As virus surges, isolated UK leader Johnson faces many foes .
LONDON (AP) — All politicians have opponents, but Boris Johnson’s list is exceptional. Amid a global pandemic, Britain’s prime minister is battling the European Union, a resurgent political opposition, angry English mayors and a beloved soccer star who wants to feed poor children. Even previously loyal lawmakers are growing restive. Less than a year after winning a landslide election victory, Johnson is facing multiple crises with few political friends.