GREATER Manchester is to move to the highest level of Covid restrictions after leaders failed to reach an agreement with the Government.

Boris Johnson has confirmed in a live press conference this evening that the city and surrounding area will now be under Tier 3 measures.

The Prime Minister said he did "regret" that an agreement had not been reached with the leaders, including Labour mayor Andy Burnham.
Mr Johnson said: "Over the last 10 days, we have sought to agree an approach with local leaders in Greater Manchester. Unfortunately, agreement wasn’t been reached.

"And I do regret this. As I said last week, we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together.

"In addition I must say, to the support outlined above, we made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester’s businesses. This offer was proportionate to the support we have given Merseyside and Lancashire, but the Mayor didn’t accept this unfortunately.

"And given the public health situation, I must now proceed with moving Greater Manchester, as I say, to the Very High alert level.

"Because not to act would put Manchester’s NHS, and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents, at risk.

"Despite the failure to reach an agreement, I hope the Mayor and council leaders in Greater Manchester will now work with us to implement these measures.

"Elsewhere, discussions on moving to the Very High alert level continue with local leaders in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and the North East.

"I hope and expect central and local government will continue to work closely together, as we are seeing in Merseyside, Lancashire, London and many other parts of the country.

"Because – ultimately – all of us want to protect the NHS, and in doing so to save lives."

It comes after days of intensifying discussions between the leaders of Greater Manchester including Mayor, and former Labour MP, Andy Burnham.

In a press conference of his own prior to the PM's statement, Mr Burnham said that the funding he was looking for from the Government - £65m - to protect jobs and businesses was now "off the table". 

He insisted the Government “walked away” from negotiations and said that local leaders were not offered enough to protect people through the “punishing” winter ahead.

He said civic leaders were prepared to reduce their bid for financial support to £65 million – a figure he described as the “bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship”.

He explained: “That is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship, to prevent homelessness. Those were the figures that we had – not what we wanted – but what we needed to prevent all of those things from happening.

“But the Government refused to accept this and at 2pm today they walked away from negotiations.

“In summary, at no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

“Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the Government offered today.”

During the press conference, Mr Burnham was shown a message saying £22 million would be given to the region and restrictions would come into force on Friday.

He said: “It’s brutal, to be honest.

“This is no way to run a country in a national crisis.

“It’s not right, they should not be doing this.”

When asked directly if the £60m offered to Greater Manchester was still going to be provided, Boris Johnson shied away from a clear response.

He said: "For the sake of fairness, it has to be the deal has to be in line with the agreements we've, we've reached with Lancashire and Merseyside."

Asked again, he said: "We have made available up to £465 million to help local authorities implement and enforce restrictions.

“Greater Manchester will receive £22 million of this."