‘It’s just really difficult’: anger in Altrincham over return to tier 3 | Greater Manchester

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After almost four months under the strictest Covid restrictions, people in Greater Manchester are dismayed at the news they will head back into stringent tier 3 measures immediately after the national lockdown.

Covid case numbers have been falling in the region in recent weeks, although they remain high in many of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs. But in Trafford the rate of 190 cases per 100,000 people is not only lower than anywhere else in the city region but lower also than in many London boroughs.

In Altrincham, an upmarket town with independent shops and an indoor food hall, the anger was palpable. “I’m fuming,” said Zoe Goldman, 40, a teacher, having a takeout lunch with her friend Hannah Cohen, also 40.

“We’ve been in this since July. In my community we’ve been very good and the virus rate has started to come down. I feel like it’s revenge,” said Goldman, referencing the very public face-off between the region’s mayor, Andy Burnham, and ministers last month. “I understand that there are some areas with incredibly high rates but [tier 3] doesn’t have to be for the whole of Greater Manchester.”

Within an hour of the announcement on Thursday, Goldman had written to the area’s Conservative MP, Graham Brady, who has previously taken a stance against the government’s system of “repetitive lockdowns”.

Cohen, a solicitor, shared her friend’s frustration. “I’m a single mum and I just want to be able to go out and have a drink with a friend. It’s just really difficult,” she said.

Amelia Beddy, 17, says the restrictions are bad for people’s mental health.
Amelia Beddy, 17, says the restrictions are bad for people’s mental health. Photograph: Mark Waugh/The Guardian

Amelia Beddy, 17, out for a walk, said she had just come out of a second two-week isolation period following Covid cases at her school. “It’s really damaging for young people’s mental health,” she said. “I’ve not seen anybody for two weeks. It’s good that we can meet up in a park with a takeaway, but I wish there were more options.”

While Christmas presented a chance for more mixing indoors, Beddy said she felt a sense of guilt that other religious festivals, including Eid and Diwali, had been all but cancelled this year.

At Altrincham retail park, where people trickled out of the few stores open, optimism remained scarce. Lucy Kibblewhite, 39, a teacher, said she felt the government had “got it in for Manchester”, and feared the relaxation over the festive period would lead to a spike in cases. “We’ve worked so hard here to get the rate down,” she said.

While vaccine trials offered some hope, she added, “we’ve barely touched on winter yet. It feels like we’ve got a long slog to get through first.”

Zoe Goldman says: ‘I feel like it’s revenge.’
Zoe Goldman says: ‘I feel like it’s revenge.’ Photograph: Mark Waugh/The Guardian

Sylvia Glynn, 59, who had popped to the shops with her mum, Jean Mills, 75, was particularly angered to hear that restaurants, bars, pubs, cinemas and other indoor venues would not be opening next month. “It seems like you can go to work but you can’t do anything fun,” she said, adding that her frustration over lockdown measures was starting to outweigh her anxieties about the virus.

Brian Foster, 80, was one of the few who supported the measures.
Brian Foster, 80, was one of the few who supported the measures. Photograph: Mark Waugh/The Guardian

Among the outliers who said they were content with the measures was 80-year-old Brian Foster, who had been using his time in isolation to redecorate his house. “I’ve been doing more now than I did in my 20s,” he said as he headed to pick up more supplies. “People are saying it’s like communism, having so many restrictions on your life. But [the government has] got to do something.”

His wife, Sheila, 76, said she had been shielding but had finally decided to leave the house. “I can’t do it any more,” she said.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘It’s just really difficult’: anger in Altrincham over return to tier 3 | Greater Manchester

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