Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham appearing on Sky News this morning said that the changes announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday night were “quite substantial” and posed challenges particularly for the police.
“The PM’s statement comes too soon for the North West and could cause confusion. My message to the people and businesses of Greater Manchester is this: please be cautious and take time before making any changes to your routine.”
He also said thatthe chief constable of Greater Manchester police, Ian Hopkins, had already rung him up asking how his officers should enforce the new rules.
It’s going to be difficult, in his words. Because we are saying to people, ‘you can go to a park and stay two metres apart’ and apparently they can be anybody, but you can only play golf with someone from your household. It feels contradictory. I think the police are going to have difficulties enforcing it, and the worry about that of course is that you lose the discipline.
Burnham also said there was “no clarity” on how businesses were supposed to open up again and keep their staff safe. “People are being encouraged to go back to work this morning without the clarity about what safe working means,” he said.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Last night the Prime Minister announced government’s intention to make changes to the lockdown regulations. We all want to return to a more normal Manchester, but this announcement has replaced certainty with vagueness and it is vitally important that here in Manchester we continue to be cautious as we continue the fight against Covid-19. Details of the government’s proposals are due to be published later today and we must hope that this brings much needed reassurance.
“Strict social distancing will still be necessary and as some people return to their place of work, making sure that our transport systems remain safe is paramount. For this reason, those of us who can remain working from home should do so. This will free up capacity on public transport to allow those who have to travel to be able to do so safely. Staggering work patterns and travel times will also be important to limit congestion and allow ample space in our workplaces.
“During the lockdown, our highways team has been working to widen busy footpaths to make sure pedestrians can keep 2metres apart at all times – and we will pilot the pedestrianisation of parts of Deansgate to test how we can make our city centre more attractive for people who want to walk and cycle. We would welcome ideas from within our communities as to how we can make their neighbourhoods safer. This crisis provides us an opportunity to think differently about how we use our towns and cities, and we must take it.
“We are still not certain that we have passed the peak of the virus and there is a real risk that it could surge again, so regular hand washing and keeping our homes sanitised is still absolutely necessary. We all have a continued part to play in helping to limit the spread of infection and reduce the pressure on our NHS. And we know there are still people in the city who need help. If this is you, or you know someone who needs support, please get in touch. Help is available.
“And finally, a resounding thank you to Manchester people. For staying home, staying safe, volunteering and looking in on neighbours. Your sacrifice and your good humoured spirit throughout this crisis has been truly inspirational.”