PM holds talks with Burnham as deadline passes on Manchester restrictions

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: ‘The talks have been ongoing this morning.’

People walk past graffiti
People walk past graffiti

Boris Johnson has spoken to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham as the deadline for agreeing a deal on tougher coronavirus controls passed without an official announcement.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out the Government’s next steps at a Downing Street press conference later on Tuesday after talks continued beyond midday.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “The talks have been ongoing this morning. I am not in a position to confirm how that has been resolved.”

Greater Manchester council leaders have reportedly asked for around £75 million in additional support if Tier 3 restrictions are imposed.

The controls would mean a ban on households mixing, including in private gardens or outdoor hospitality settings, while pubs and bars will be forced to close unless they serve meals.

Ministers have offered £22 million to the region, equivalent to £8 per capita, with “additional support commensurate” with that offered in Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region.

But civic leaders are said to want the Government to go further to support the city’s economy and 2.8 million people.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick issued a statement on Monday night warning that the Government had no choice but to act because of the deteriorating situation in the region.

He said he had “written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday (on Tuesday) then I must advise the Prime Minister that, despite our best endeavours, we’ve been unable to reach agreement”.

Mr Burnham said earlier on Tuesday that he would “try to be positive and respond, and see if we can find a way forward” despite the “slightly provocative move” by the Government.

In other developments:

– Downing Street said talks are continuing with local leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber about further coronavirus restrictions.

– Official figures showed the number of weekly registered coronavirus deaths has risen beyond 400 and increased by a third in the space of seven days.

– Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for the 10pm curfew in the capital to be scrapped now the city is under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

– Test subjects could be exposed to the new coronavirus in controlled settings from January in a bid to speed up vaccine development, officials confirmed.

– Number 10 confirmed that, under Tier 2 and 3 rules on household mixing, people can still meet up for work meetings indoors under certain circumstances.

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