Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Greater Manchester mayor says there is ‘clear case’ to ease Covid curbs | Coronavirus”
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has said there is a “clear case” to relax Covid restrictions across a large part of the region as the government reviews the rules across England on Wednesday.
About 34 million people – 60% of England’s population – are expected to face winter under tier 3, the toughest regulations, with pubs and restaurants forced to close until the new year.
After a rushed-forward decision on Monday to place London and parts of the south-east in tier 3 amid rapidly rising infections, ministers will set the rules for the rest of England on Wednesday with an announcement expected on Thursday.
Covid at Christmas: how do rules vary across Europe?
France reopened non-essential shops this month, allowing Christmas shopping to begin. But an uptick in new infections since then means that while travel is permitted from 15 December, a nationwide 8pm to 7am curfew will begin then that will be lifted for 24 December, but not Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve. Bars and restaurants will not reopen until January and private gatherings are limited to six adults.
Germany‘s “lockdown light”, with bars and restaurants closed since November, has not proved effective and the country has shut down further, closing all bar essential shops (such as supermarkets and pharmacies) as well as hair and beauty salons until at least 10 January. A maximum of five people from two households may meet, except for 24, 25 and 26 December when up to four close family members from other households can be invited.
Austria’s strict lockdown has ended and the country is carrying out a mass programme of 10 million tests over the next fortnight with the aim of allowing more families to reunite over the festive period. Christmas markets have been cancelled.
Italy‘s prime minister has said tougher restrictions will be needed over the holiday period,but they have not yet been announced. Inter-regional travel is already banned from 20 December to 6 January except for work, health or emergency reasons, and Italians may not leave their home towns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. Midnight mass on 24 December has been brought forward so worshippers can get home before a nationwide 10pm-5am curfew.
Spain has appealed for people to be responsible but will allow movement between regions “for family reasons” between 23 December and 6 January. Regional curfews, which range from 10pm to midnight, will be pushed back to 1.30am on 24 and 31 December, when the limit for gatherings will be raised from six to 10, a measure that will also apply on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The Netherlands has imposed a tough Christmas lockdown, closing non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theatres for five weeks until 19 January. Bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October. Schools are switching to online learning and people advised to stay at home. Households may invite up to two guests a day except for 24-26 December, when the ceiling is raised to three, excluding children under 13.
Belgium has said households may be in close contact with just one extra person over the Christmas period, although people living on their own will be allowed to meet two others. Fireworks are to be banned on New Year’s Eve to limit gatherings.
Poland will allow people to spend Christmas only with their immediate family, with no more than five guests to be invited to each household until at least 27 December and travel banned outside people’s home towns.
Britain is relaxing restrictions over the holiday with “Christmas bubbles” allowing up to three households to mix between 23 and 27 December. Scientists, government advisers and medical experts have called for an urgent rethink, suggesting the move could result in a disastrous third wave in the New Year.
Jon Henley Europe correspondent
Burnham said Greater Manchester’s overall infection rate was “significantly below” England’s average – 150 cases per 100,000 people compared with about 180 for England – and that it was lower than London and Liverpool’s case rate when those cities were placed in tier 2.
“I accept that the national mood has changed since those decisions were taken and I can also understand if the government were wanting to err on the side of caution,” he said.
“Some of our boroughs are above the national average or close to it, so we could understand if a cautious decision was taken in respect of those but there is a clear case for Greater Manchester, a large part of Greater Manchester, to be placed in tier 2.”
Privately, MPs, council leaders and health officials across the north of England said they expected their areas to remain in the tightest restrictions at least for another fortnight, amid growing concern about the effect of loosening the rules to allow some social mixing over Christmas.
Others, including the Conservative MP Nigel Evans, are urging ministers to take a more localised approach to the restrictions, allowing them to be lifted in areas with lower infection rates instead of a blanket rule for an entire region.
Burnham said he was “not at all convinced” that the two strictest tiers of restrictions were bringing down infections, saying the closure of hospitality over the festive period risked more people gathering in homes and the opening of non-essential retail was a “significant driver of spread”.
The five-day UK Christmas Covid bubble: how will it work?
The government has announced that up to three households will be able to mix indoors and stay with each other overnight from 23 to 27 December under loosened coronavirus restrictions across the UK.
Can I eat out with my Christmas bubble?
No. In a blow to pubs and restaurants, and families who like to avoid the piles of washing-up, separate households in a Christmas bubble will not be able to meet up in hospitality venues. However, members of a Christmas bubble can meet at home, in places of worship and in outdoor public places including gardens. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in. If you are living in a tier 3 area in England, pubs ands restaurants will remain closed.
Is there a limit on the number of people who can meet up as part of a bubble?
There is no maximum size for a Christmas bubble, so you don’t need to worry if you and those you join with live in large households.
If I’m already in a bubble with another household, do we count as one household or two for the new Christmas rules?
Under the rules, a support bubble will count as one household when Christmas bubbles are being formed.
Can I join more than one Christmas bubble?
No, the bubbles have to be exclusive, and they cannot change over the five-day period – so pick your households carefully. This means that you can’t mix with two households on Christmas Day, and then a different two households on Boxing Day. However, children whose parents are separated will be able to move between two Christmas bubbles so they’re able to celebrate with both parents.
Do I need to socially distance from the people in my Christmas bubble?
Bubble members will not be required to social distance while they are together, so they can hug or kiss under the mistletoe. However, people are advised to exercise caution if there are vulnerable people involved in their bubble.
What about care home residents?
In England, some care home residents may be allowed to form a bubble with one other household, in agreement with the home and subject to individual risk assessments. In this case, social distancing should be maintained, with regular hand washing and ventilation to reduce risk. Care home residents should not form a three-household Christmas bubble at any point.
Can I travel to meet up with people in my Christmas bubble?
Individuals will be able to travel between coronavirus tiers and across the UK during the designated festive period (23 to 27 December). People will be able to travel to and from Northern Ireland for an extra day either side of that period, to allow for the extra time needed.
What if I live in a shared household?
In England, people living in shared households can split and join separate Christmas bubbles without breaking the three-household rule. So a group of, say, four young people living together would all be allowed to return home to their four separate families for Christmas and then come back to their shared home after the festive period.
MPs in north-west England had a meeting with the health minister, Ed Argar, on Thursday when, sources said, they were given the impression that Lancashire and Greater Manchester would remain under the strictest Covid rules.
However, Argar is said to have told MPs there was “potentially more flexibility” around some local authorities moving into a lower tier.
This would please the leaders of some Greater Manchester councils – including Manchester, Stockport and Trafford – but others were concerned it would lead to their residents flooding into Manchester city centre to party over Christmas.
One leader said there was a “cautious majority” in the region who believed Greater Manchester was “borderline” tier 2 but that the risks of relaxing the rules over the festive period were high.
In West Yorkshire, the Leeds city council leader, Judith Blake, said on Monday she had hoped for the city to be placed in tier 2 – but added that this was a “finely balanced judgment” and that it came with risks.
The latest seven-day infection rate in Leeds remains below the average for England, at just over 130 cases per 100,000, however it is above the average in nearby Bradford.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Greater Manchester mayor says there is ‘clear case’ to ease Covid curbs | Coronavirus