Greater Manchester mayor says 'all hell broke loose' when local Covid restrictions began

Andy Burnham gave evidence at the Covid Inquiry in London on Monday 27 November.

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry he only had an hour's notice of local restrictions coming into effect.

Mr Burnham said "all hell broke loose" when then-health secretary, Matt Hancock, left gave him an hour to discuss the imposition of local restrictions with local leaders.

He described the situation, saying it was “as chaotic as it gets”.

“What I remember is about 8 o’clock that night, the health secretary gave a very cursory announcement to a TV camera in 4 Millbank that we would be going under these restrictions and then all hell broke loose.”

The Metro Mayor accused Government of imposing stricter restrictions on Greater Manchester after he argued for more financial support for those unable to work during the pandemic.

He read a minute of a meeting of the Governments Covid-O committee that said: “Lancashire should have a lighter set of measures imposed than Greater Manchester since they had shown a greater willingness to co-operate.

“Tougher measures should be imposed on Greater Manchester that day.”

Mr Burnham added: “Because we stood up for people in our city region who would otherwise have really struggled had they gone into that lockdown without the funds to help them, because we took that stand they decided to make an example of us.

“It’s unbelievable for me now to look at evidence saying they knew it didn’t work, they knew Tier 3 didn’t work.

“They knew that, but they were still going to impose it on us without enough financial support.”

He went on to say he believes Boris Johnson "didn't know" about Greater Manchester being under restrictions since July 2020.

During a phone call with the former Prime Minister in October 2020, Mr Johnson was discussing the Tier 3 restrictions being introduced the following day.

Mr Burnham said: “(Boris Johnson) was saying ‘we just need you to agree to these Tier 3 restrictions and (financial) packages’ and I said ‘we can’t, it is not enough’.

“He said ‘what do you mean?’ and I said ‘we have been under restrictions since July. You do know about that, don’t you?’

“To me, it didn’t seem that he did know about that. He wasn’t aware that we have been struggling all that time.”

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