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Ministers were said to be considering the new measures, which could come as early as Monday, according to media reports, as infection rates continue to soar in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
The move, if confirmed, would be another body blow for the hard-pressed hospitality industry in the regions already reeling from the imposition of the controversial 10pm curfew.
“It is deeply disappointing to wake up this morning to reports that new Covid-19 restrictions affecting millions of people in our City Region, and across the North, could be in place within days, rather than hearing it during a genuine dialogue between ministers and local leaders.
“At the moment we have a patchwork of local measures across the country and too much confusion for the public as a result. So, clarity and consistency are certainly needed about what the different levels of restrictions are, when they will be imposed and, crucially, how and when they can be lifted again.
“Significant restrictions, like those being proposed, must also come with significant financial support for local businesses that will be affected, local councils who are leading our public health efforts and for NHS test and trace.
“When the country locked down in March, the Chancellor’s actions showed that such significant measures required financial support on a similar scale. If it was right then, it certainly is now – so we need to be seeing local furlough schemes, business grants and financial support for the self-employed and those who cannot work from home. Otherwise the money spent earlier in the year to protect jobs and businesses earlier in the year will have been wasted, because we haven’t done similar now.
“It’s clear looking at the data and speaking to public health teams in our city region that the spread of this virus continues to go in the wrong direction. We are seeing infection rates increase significantly, while hospital admissions are already moving towards the levels we saw back in April.
“Once again, I would urge everyone in the City Region to exercise extreme caution. Please follow the guidance on social distancing, face coverings and washing hands and play your part in keeping all of us as safe as possible.”
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