Good morning. Boris Johnson only announced his new three-tier system for coronavirus restrictions in England on Monday, but three days later it looks as if another 4m people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire are going to find themselves re-assigned to the very high risk tier 3, subject to new rules that could put some people out of work. Under tier 3 pubs can only serve alcohol as part of a proper meal, wedding receptions are banned, and people are advised not to leave the area. There is a summary of the rules here.
Here is a preview story by my colleague Jessica Elgot.
London also faces being moved up from the medium risk tier 1, where the current England-wide rules apply, to high risk tier 2, where indoor mixing with other households is banned.
Interestingly, government ministers want to tighten the rules in Greater Manchester against the wishes of local leaders. But in London it’s the mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is pushing for more stringent restrictions, with central government reportedly less keen.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, and council leaders in his region are resisting the move to tier 3 not because they don’t accept the need to contain the surge in Covid, but because they believe the support package available to firms and workers affected is inadequate. And this morning they received powerful backing from Dame Louise Casey, the former senior civil servant who has performed a series of high profile social welfare roles under every prime minister since Tony Blair. Rough sleeping, antisocial behaviour, troubled families – she’s been a “tsar” for more or less everything. Today, in an interview with the BBC, Casey says the UK faces an unprecedented outbreak of “destitution” because the support available to people affected by local restrictions is inadequate. In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg she said:
We are looking at a period of destitution. I can’t impress upon you enough that I think we are heading into an unprecedented period. We’re already in it and it’s going to get worse. And it needs a more cross-government cross-society response.
Do we want to go back to the days where people can’t put shoes on the children? Are we actually asking people in places like Liverpool to go out and prostitute themselves, so that they could put food on the table?
I am not a dramatic person. I have been in Whitehall for over 20 years, I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. And this is unprecedented. I remember the Thatcher era right through to now and I have never worked in a situation where I’m so concerned about what’s going to happen.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Helen Whately, the health minister, holds a private briefing with London MPs. Later, at 10.15am, Jo Churchill, another health minister, holds a briefing with Lancashire MPs and at 10.45am Whately holds a briefing with Greater Manchester MPs. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, is also expected to have a call with No 10. All these calls are taking place ahead of Matt Hancock’s statement later.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its regular report on coronavirus and the economy.
11am: The UK government is due to publish its latest test and trace statistics.
Around 11.30am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, makes a statement to MPs, with Greater Manchester and Lancashire likely to be added to the very high alert tier 3, meaning they would be subject to greater restrictions, and London likely to be moved up from the medium alter tier 1 to the high alert tier 2.
12.20pm: Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, makes a virtual statement to the Scottish parliament about coronavirus.
2.15pm: Simon Case, the new cabinet secretary, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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