Greater Manchester 'strong case' to come out of Tier 3

Andy Burnham making case for easing of restrictions Credit: ITV Granada

Greater Manchester has a "strong case" to come out of Tier 3 restrictions when they are reviewed next week, according to the region's mayor.

Andy Burnham said the region's current rates of infection compare favourably with those of Liverpool and London when those cities were placed in Tier 2.

Mr Burnham said, "In terms of the tiering decision when they both went into Tier 2, on headline case rates in all groups, we are lower than both and lower than Liverpool on the over-60s and you have seen today that hospital pressure has decreased somewhat since that time as well.

"So we will be making that case to Government over the next couple of days."

The mayor said meetings will take place next Tuesday, with decisions taken on tiering next Wednesday to be announced on Thursday.

The region's 2.7 million people went into the top tier of restrictions in October. Mr Burnham cited reports claiming that mass job losses in London persuaded the Government not to put the toughest lockdown restrictions on the capital.

The mayor said keeping Manchester city centre's huge hospitality industry 'locked down' could backfire if people instead gather in homes and spread the virus.

"This is a critical time for the economy, particularly the city centre economy."

Earlier Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said latest data trends showed a significant rate of decline in infection rates in nine of the region's 10 boroughs.

Mortality rates, hospital admissions and the number of Covid-19 patients in ITU beds were also all down, he said.

Lou Cordwell, co-chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said there had been a doubling of Universal Credit claimants to more than 100,000 people.

Estimates also suggest the regional economy has shrunk by 15%, with forecasts of another 100,000 people unemployed in the first half of next year.