Tier three is 'ticking time bomb' for Greater Manchester

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Greater manchester Manchester lockdown Coronavirus

The Government has been asked to provide more data before imposing the same restrictions on Greater Manchester that it faced before lockdown.

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has asked for more evidence to justify the city region being placed into the toughest tier of virus measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said England will be spliced into tiers of measures once more after the current four-week lockdown expires on 2 December.

Greater Manchester was previously in the strictest tier, where pubs had to shut unless they could sell alcohol with a substantial meal and households were not allowed to mix.

Lord wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask for the data supporting the closure of wet-led sites and the 10pm curfew on pubs and bars.

Left in limbo

"We have still not seen any clear evidence to merit these moves, and with just three weeks to go, we feel time is running out to save the sector," the night czar said.

“We have been left in limbo or been given last minute rule changes on more than one occasion during this pandemic, but now is the Government's chance to show they take this sector seriously.”

Lord said a legal case challenging the move into tier three will restart on 3 December unless adequate scientific evidence to justify it is presented. 

In the letter, written by JMW Solicitors, it is stated: “It is irrational to have a policy of tiered restrictions without some criteria or published guidance as to the thresholds for each tier. 

“It cannot be said that these are essentially political decisions which require no such guidance or published criteria, particularly given the Government’s assiduous commitment to following the science.”

Point of no return

The letter also questions the justification for the 10pm curfew and the tier three requirement that alcohol can only be served in pubs, bars and restaurants in conjunction with a main meal.

Lord said tier three was a “ticking time bomb” for many in the hospitality sector, giving many businesses little financial incentive to keep operating.

“The sector makes around a third of its annual takings in the December period and these restrictions, which will be implemented without any proof they help reduce infection spread, will take many to the point of no return,” he added.

Some 1,809 wet-led pubs and bars in Greater Manchester would not be able to reopen after the lockdown if they are under tier three, Lord said.

Community venues

“Many of these are in the most deprived areas of our city-region but are critical to the communities they represent,” he continued. 

“The decision to punish these venues, while keeping others open, is a blow to northern culture and an ignorant disregard for the most disadvantaged or oldest in society who are unable to afford meals just to be able to socialise with friends, see loved ones or simply feel part of their community."

"The Government now has three weeks to rethink its position on these measures and save jobs, businesses and communities. This lockdown period is a real opportunity for them to work with us - the people who know this sector best - to avoid the same mistakes being made and causing business closures on a colossal scale."

It comes as Labour leader Keir Starmer said a “smarter” alternative was needed to the 10pm curfew, which has led to crowds spilling out of venues into city centres at the same time.

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