The North East has been given one more week to prove current measures are working, or else it could be moved to the most serious tier of lockdown rules.
Downing Street has agreed to allow more time after receiving a joint statement from leaders in Northumberland, Newcastle, South and North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham warning against the ‘devastating’ impact of third tier restrictions.
They insisted there is ‘evidence of a flattening of the curve’ and that authorities in the region are confident they can make the current alert level two work, ChronicleLive reports.
Confirming today that they have been given one week’s reprieve before a decision is made, Gateshead Council Leader Martin Gannon said: The data shows a significant slow down over the past week. Government concede we need a little more time to prove that trend.
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‘We now need to ask everyone to help us, thank you to those that have won us this reprieve.
‘We are staring down the barrel of a gun, it is a battle to prove we can do it, to save the economy and jobs.’
It comes after bars and pubs across Lancashire were forced to close today as the North West county was moved to tier three.
Previously only the Liverpool city region had been placed under the most severe Covid alert level.
Residents in Lancashire will be told they can no longer socialise with other households indoors or outdoors, while hundreds of hospitality businesses will close.
Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will also be forced to shut.
Greater Manchester is understood to have refused to move into the third tier unless it is given more money by the Government.
But in a Downing Street press conference this evening, Boris Johnson warned he ‘will intervene’ if an agreement isn’t reached with metro mayor Andy Burnham soon.
In a joint-statement, the leaders of Greater Manchester, North Tyne and Liverpool City Region said the Government’s new ‘local furlough’ scheme doesn’t go far enough.
They said: ‘Paying two-thirds of salaries will not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands.’
The leaders said it should at least match the 80% available under the previous furlough scheme.
Arguing that a top up for those on Universal Credit is ‘not the answer’, they added: ‘It doesn’t help everybody and takes weeks to come through. It will not prevent severe hardship for thousands of low paid workers before Christmas.’
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