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Boris Johnson has warned Manchester he'll be "forced to intervene" if the region refuses to go into a Tier 3 lockdown.
Mayor Andy Burnham is currently locked in a stand-off with the Government, saying Greater Manchester won't shift from Tier 2 to 3 until it gets more financial support.
He's insisting on a short "circuit breaker" lockdown to get the coronavirus under control, and wants the Government to grant Greater Manchester some significant concessions as well as aid for struggling businesses and workers.
On Friday afternoon the Prime Minister urged leaders in Greater Manchester to "reconsider and engage constructively".
In a televised press conference from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said he "completely understands" why Mr Burnham is reluctant to agree to further restrictions.
Covid-19 cases have doubled in nine days and at the current rate, there will be more people in intensive care than at the height of the first wave.
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Mr Johnson said time is of the essence and he hopes they can reach an agreement with Greater Manchester, but warned that if necessary he will impose restrictions unilaterally.
He reiterated his desire not to implement a second national lockdown, and said he hopes Mr Burnham will "come with us" but he reserves the right to step in.
Local leaders across the regions most affected by the second wave of coronavirus infections have clashed with Whitehall in recent weeks, challenging the Government's evidence for closing pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas.
They say closing these establishments down once more would deal a fatal blow to much of the local economy.
In a statement earlier in the week with leaders across Greater Manchester, Mr Burnham said: "We communicated our clear and unanimous view to the Government: it is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support for the people and businesses affected.
"To do so will result in certain hardship, job losses and business failure. It will cause harm in a different way – to people’s mental health – and is not certain to control the virus.
Mr Burnham, along with North Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, are calling for an 80% furlough scheme for everyone affected by regional lockdowns.
In a joint statement they said: "Paying two-thirds of salaries will not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands – it should at least match the 80% that was available under furlough, with the minimum wage as the minimum support.
"The Universal Credit top-up is not the answer. It doesn't help everybody and takes weeks to come through. It will not prevent severe hardship for thousands of low-paid workers before Christmas.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has introduced a scheme for people who cannot work because their workplace is shut by Covid-19 restrictions, but it's less generous than the furlough scheme and pays just 67% of wages.
- Boris Johnson
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