Greater Manchester residents advised to minimise travel and work from home
The Government has changed its COVID guidance for Greater Manchester, advising "minimal" travel in and out of the city region.
People in Greater Manchester and Lancashire are also now being advised to take “particular caution” when meeting people outside of their household or bubble, to meet outside rather than inside where possible.
That's not just about protecting Greater Manchester, it's about protecting the whole country
Bolton has been under this guidance since 11 May, as COVID rates in the area spiked during April and May. The news was greeted with confusion as the changes were not widely publicised at the time.
To ensure the same scenario was not repeated, Matt Hancock announced the changes for Greater Manchester in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).
Mr Hancock told MPs: “I can tell the House that today working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support based on what’s working in Bolton, to help Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackle the rise in the Delta variant that we’re seeing there.”
Bolton had the highest infection rate in the region at 319.6 cases per 100,000 people though it now has a downward trend. The other nine areas of Greater Manchester are seeing rapidly rising cases with Stockport, Salford, Bury and Manchester city area all doubling their rates.
Mr Hancock added: “This includes rapid response teams, putting in extra testing, military support and supervised in school testing. I want to encourage everyone in Manchester and Lancashire to get the tests on offer."
“We know that this approach can work, we’ve seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.
“This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and in Lancashire, and of course it’s vital that people in these areas – as everywhere else – come forward and get the jab as soon as they’re eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together.”
At the weekend, the Health Secretary told Sky News that the variant is 40% more transmissible than the Kent strain.
Manchester leaders react to COVID guidance
Mayor Andy Burnham called the news a "significant development", but that it was important to "keep a sense of proportion about what has been announced today" noting that the measures are purely advisory and do not amount to a lockdown or a ban. "We are asking people to be cautious, to be more vigilant given the rise in cases but they can go on living their lives."
Mr Burnham and other Manchester leaders have been in discussions with the Government over the last few days.
Sir Richard Leese, who is Health Lead for Greater Manchester added: "Our entire health system is under unprecedented pressure. Not from COVID-19 particularly but pent-up demand that has been suppressed by COVID appears to be bursting out."
The Manchester City Council Leader explained that hospitals are working hard to clear a backlog of almost 300,000 elective cases that had been delayed by COVID.
"We have to look at this COVID pressure as adding to existing pressure within the system."
It’s important that all over-50s in Greater Manchester come forward now for their second jabs.
Just had mine today, dead easy and all down to the brilliant team at the Etihad MVC!
Thank you all. 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/IZkvXYbcs8
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) June 8, 2021
Andy Burnham said: 'We're asking for the bringing forward of Greater Manchester's supplies so we can run a surge vaccination programme over the next three weeks."
"We call on the Government to work with us on that... We believe that if we were to surge vaccine supplies into Greater Manchester in the next three weeks it would allow us to go further and faster in those areas where we need to drive take up. That's not just about protecting Greater Manchester, it's about protecting the whole country."
Follow Lucy Tomlinson on Twitter @hotcupoftea
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What's the advice then?
Meet outside rather than inside
Keep two metres apart (apart from your household)
Minimise travel in and out of the area
Get tested twice a week
Work from home if possible
Take up the offer of a vaccine as soon as possible