Tier 2 sees Oldham specific measures scrapped

Reporter: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
Date published: 12 October 2020

Tougher restrictions on funerals and public transport in Oldham are to be scrapped as Greater Manchester is due to be placed under ‘Tier 2’ coronavirus rules, the Prime Minister has said.

The region has escaped a ‘Tier 3′ shutdown of pubs and bars, but households will continue to be banned from meeting inside.

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon tweeted following a video call with Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in which he confirmed that the rules would be changing for Oldham and made the same across the region.

He posted: “Call with the Secretary of State confirms GM will be placed in Tier 2 with household restrictions on meeting indoors in any setting, but not outdoors.

“Pubs remain open. Oldham will be removed from its enhanced lockdown measures and brought into line with GM *at last*.”

Mr McMahon has since said: "I’m relieved that Greater Manchester isn’t having it’s pubs and restaurants closed without a robust scientific evidence base.

“When the Health Secretary was giving Greater Manchester MPs an update on the tiers earlier this afternoon, I asked him whether this meant that Oldham is now finally brought into line with the rest of Greater Manchester.

"He confirmed with me that it did.

“It means that funerals in Oldham will be allowed to have 30 mourners present and Oldhamers will be free to use public transport for non-essential travel.

"People in Oldham will once again be allowed to meet their friends and family outdoors as long as the rule of six is followed, the Health Secretary may not have replied to my letters yet but I am pleased that my asks have now been granted.

“The Prime Minister’s announcements this afternoon do not provide assurances for the business that are desperately in need of support for themselves or their employees.

"Nor did he provide clarity that local councillors and leaders have been listened to.

"The PM said his government will put their arms around every worker and business in the country, but the actions of his Chancellor say otherwise.

“To get a grip of this virus we need local control of Test and Trace.

"This is something that needs to be done on the ground, street-by-street, rather than in a distant call centre. Councils have been asking for this for weeks, they are in a position to deliver on it, and they will make a difference.

"But they need to be properly resourced.

“The government have been slow to react throughout this crisis and have been poor at communicating what the restrictions in different places actually are.

"We need them to get a grip and let local leaders take back control.”

It means Oldham – which has been under stronger restrictions than the majority of the other boroughs since the middle of August – will see some measures relaxed.

These include raising the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals from the Oldham level of 20 to the regional capacity of 30, and residents will be allowed to use public transport for non-essential travel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has addressed the House of Commons, and will speak to the nation later today, after placing the Liverpool City region under the toughest level of new restrictions.

The Tier 3 rules will see pubs and bars, betting shops, casinos, adult gaming centres and gyms forced to close to tackle rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions.

It had been feared at the end of last week that Greater Manchester would also see its hospitality venues closed amid a student led surge in cases, much to the dismay of industry and political leaders in the region.

However, today MPs have been told that other northern areas are to be classed as ‘Tier 2’ which means that businesses will not be made to shut down, but restrictions on socialising remain in force.

It also appears to open up the possibility of people living in the region meeting in private gardens, which had been banned under the local lockdown measures introduced at the end of July.

However, the national legislation around the rule of six, and social distancing would have to apply.

Over the weekend, northern leaders, including the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, have been in talks with the government over the potential new restrictions.

During a press conference on Saturday they warned they risk plunging residents into ‘severe hardship in the run-up to Christmas’ following the Chancellor’s support package announcement for those impacted by new lockdown rules.

Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, Sacha Lord described the Tier 2 announcement as a ‘big result’.

He tweeted: “Our pubs/bars will stay open. This could change though, so we will continue to keep our legal challenge ready, in the event that it does.

“We will not support any closure without scientific evidence.”

Under the new tier system for responding to Covid-19, Tier 1 would be for areas with fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people and only the ‘minimum restrictions’ would apply.

As of Sunday, October 11, Manchester had the highest infection rate in the region with 477 cases per 100,000 people.

Stockport remains the lowest out of the ten boroughs with an infection rate of 257.

The new set of restrictions will be implemented from Wednesday and last at least four weeks before being reviewed.

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