Friday, 16 October 2020

Lancashire AGREES to toughest Tier 3 lockdown from TOMORROW

 Lancashire has agreed to move into the toughest Tier Three lockdown after securing a bailout from the government, it was revealed today.

The deal was announced as Boris Johnson threatens to force Greater Manchester into the top category despite a furious rebellion from local leaders and Tory 'Red Wall' MPs. 

The county joins Liverpool as the only areas in Tier Three, which means all bars and pubs that do not serve meals must shut - as well as a ban on household mixing indoors and in gardens. More than 1,100 venues are expected to be closed from midnight tonight, with casinos, betting shops and car boot sales given another 48 hours' grace.

However, there was anger in Liverpool that it has been made to close down gyms and leisure centres, while they can stay open in Lancashire. 

The Department of Health said there would be a £12million support package as well as more money for an economic recovery 'task force' over the next six months. Local sources claimed in total it could be worth £30million.

 Talks to thrash out the details and support package for Lancashire ran late overnight, and reached a conclusion this morning.  

However, the standoff over Greater Manchester looks to be deepening, with the government warning it will not be 'held over a barrel' by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. 

Mr Burnham reiterated his demand for more financial support today, after saying the North was being treated like a 'sacrificial lamb' and a 'canary in the coalmine' with experimental restrictions. He has claimed that if London - which enters Tier Two from tomorrow - was in the same position there would be a nationwide clampdown.  

Mr Johnson is also facing mounting pressure from his own SAGE experts to trigger a 'circuit breaker' squeeze across the country over half-term - with one scientist even suggesting the process might need to be repeated again and again until a vaccine becomes available. 

In a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the government would rather vote with local leaders 'if possible'.

But he accused Mr Burnham of trying to 'hold the Government over a barrel' by resisting tougher coronavirus restrictions.

'Ultimately we need to take action – we can't have a situation as we have seen in Manchester where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and politics when actually we need to take action,' he told BBC Breakfast.

'The cases there are 470 per 100,000 so it is very serious, and we must take action in the interest of the people of Manchester and the wider area, and if we take those targeted actions in those areas most affected… we get through this and we avoid the national level lockdown.'

Mr Raab urged Mr Burnham to 'do the right thing by the people of Manchester'.

In other key developments today: 

  • SAGE member Professor Jeremy Farrar said the current base level of restrictions, which includes a 10pm curfew, were the 'worst of all worlds' as they inflicted economic damage while not going far enough to suppress the virus;
  • Another SAGE adviser has suggested that a series of 'circuit breakers' could be needed, planned around school holidays, to get the outbreak under control; 
  • Wales is preparing to defy the PM by bringing in its own 'circuit breaker' lockdown - as an 'unenforceable' travel ban on English people from coronavirus hotspots travelling to Wales comes takes effect tonight; 
  • London is in its last day before Tier Two restrictions come into force, meaning around nine million people will be banned from mixing with other households indoors;
  • Mr Raab said he took 'very seriously' allegations of a Russian disinformation campaign against the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, with pictures, memes and video clips depicting the British-made inoculation as dangerous.   

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