‘Difficult to resist’ calls to close pubs in favour of helping school reopening - Burnham

Reporter: Niall Griffiths
Date published: 12 August 2020

Andy Burnham has admitted it would be ‘difficult to resist’ calls to close pubs if it meant Greater Manchester’s schools could reopen safely.

Concerns have been raised about a rising number of pubs and restaurants failing to take the details of customers for contact tracing.

Only 53 per cent of people in the city-region who have come into contact with Covid-19 have been successfully traced by the national test and trace system.

Mr Burnham has already said that ‘mystery shoppers’ will be employed as part of targeted enforcement against non-compliant premises.

But he told a press conference: “Reopening schools is a big challenge, alongside colleges and universities returning.

“If schools reopen and the hospitality sector cannot be relied on to do the right thing then there’ll be a problem.

“If it’s a choice between schools staying open or pubs staying open then there really isn’t a choice, schools stay open.

"It’s as simple as that.

“We’re going to have to get more compliance as we go into the second half of this year, and we’re going to have to have everybody working with us to maximise people’s safety.

“If we don’t see a change then I think we’re going to have to consider restrictions on hospitality because otherwise we’re going to have too much of the virus circulating in our communities later this year.”

Mr Burnham was speaking at the launch of a new campaign for workers – particularly those in low-paid jobs or who are self-employed – to receive full pay while self-isolating.

Significant gaps in the national tracing data have been attributed to works fearing they may lose pay if they are asked to self-isolate, and are unable to work from home.

This will also have an effect on schools according to Mr Burnham, who said: “We’re three weeks from schools reopening, if this issue is not fixed we will not be reopening schools in the safest way we possibly can.

“We’ll be allowing more of the virus to circulate if people cannot afford to self isolate.

“And it will be schools in some of the poorest areas that will be most at risk because of how many people in those places are in low paid insecure work.”

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