Hopes that Altrincham’s hospitality industry will be able to reopen in time for Christmas have today been dashed with confirmation that Greater Manchester will be staying in Tier 3.
With almost the whole of Greater Manchester now well below the national infection rate average, it had been hoped that the region, or at least part of the region, would be moved out of the toughest level of restrictions and placed into Tier 2.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in a statement to the House of Commons this morning, confirmed that there would be no change in Greater Manchester’s tier status. “This is a moment when we act with caution,” he said.
Only two places – Bristol and North Somerset – were moved out of Tier 3 to Tier 2, with whole swathes of the South East were moved into the highest tier.
Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, criticised the decision and said there “doesn’t seem to be a clear, evidence based and fair approach to determining the tiers”.
He said: “I know that many residents and businesses will be disappointed by this news. I made no secret of the fact that I thought we should be moved into Tier 2 as part of the review process, and wrote to the Prime Minister to share that view last week.”
Having been in some form of local lockdown since late July, the region had been placed under the highest level of restrictions on November 26th when the tier system was announced, with the measures taking effect from December 2nd.
Since then, infection rates have generally been on a downward trend in Greater Manchester, with Trafford at one point having the lowest rate of any Tier 3 area in the country.
The most up-to-date figures show that every borough in Greater Manchester – with the exception of Rochdale – is now below the England average, with Trafford, Stockport and Tameside at around half the national rate.
There had been hope that Greater Manchester could at least be split up to allow boroughs with a lower rate to enter Tier 2, especially since Essex and Herfordshire were broken up between Tiers 2 and 3 earlier in the week.
But today’s news completes an utterly devastating year for the region’s hospitality industry, as well as all those other businesses unable to open under Tier 3 terms.
Western said he was “concerned about the wider health and wellbeing impacts these restrictions have”.
He added: “That said this is a precarious time in the fight against coronavirus, with Christmas coming up. I would encourage all residents to continue to follow the Government’s guidance and to be sensible about household mixing over the festive period. We need to ensure that we avoid a third spike in the virus in January, especially now that the vaccine means an end is hopefully in sight. If we can do that I hope we will see restrictions eased locally early in the new year.”
Here’s a reminder of Tier 3 restrictions:
- No mixing between households indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor places
- No socialising in groups of more than 6 in public outdoor spaces including parks, countryside or a public garden
- Pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars must close but can continue to trade by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
- Hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses must close
- Indoor entertainment venues must close, including indoor play centres, casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks, cinemas, theatres and concert halls
- Leisure and sports facilities can stay open but group exercise classes should not go ahead
- No indoor or outdoor events, with the exception of drive-in events
- Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there
- Wedding receptions banned
- Funerals can go ahead but with a maximum of 30 people
- Wedding ceremonies can go ahead but with a maximum of 15 people
- Avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, or to receive medical treatment