Keeping pubs and restaurants shut over Christmas could help to spread Covid-19, says Burnham

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says that there would be a greater chance of coronavirus spread over the Christmas period if the hospitality industry is not allowed to open.

Burnham said the latest data showed that, according to the government’s own indicators which it uses to decide the Tier system, the region was in a better position than either Liverpool or London when they entered Tier 2 at the start of December.

A decision on whether Greater Manchester will be moved into Tier 2 will be taken on Tuesday and Wednesday next week and announced on Thursday, with any change to come in effect from Saturday December 19th.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Burnham and Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, presented the latest evidence confirming that the infection rate was coming down across the region.

The seven-day average for the whole of the region now stood at 160.1 for the week to December 4th, with 10 out of 11 boroughs showing a decline. Trafford has the lowest rate in Greater Manchester, at 87.6.

The data also showed that both hospital admissions and inpatient diagnoses have gone down across the region, as well as the number of ITU and other beds with Covid-19 patients.

Burnham said that a delegation from Greater Manchester would be making the case to government that the region should be moved out of Tier 3.

And he said that keeping the region in Tier 3 could lead to more people gathering inside homes.

He said: “This is a critical time for the economy, particularly the city centre economy.

“If you keep a city like Manchester in Tier 3 it does create the incentive for people to have more informal gatherings in the home, particularly through the new year period.

“To have the hospitality sector closed might present greater challenges to Greater Manchester Police and gatherings could present more chance of spread.”

He added: “The picture has improved consistently over recent weeks and the data says we have a good case for Tier 2.”

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