The government has issued an ultimatum to leaders in Greater Manchester to agree a lockdown deal or risk having stricter restrictions imposed upon them.
In a statement, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has said that he has written to local leaders in Greater Manchester giving them until midday on Tuesday to reach an agreement on the introduction of Tier 3 restrictions.
He accused local leaders of being “unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control”.
Mayor Andy Burnham earlier said that they still wanted agreement on a financial support package before agreeing to go into the highest, Tier 3 restrictions.
Jenrick said: “The deteriorating public health situation in Greater Manchester means that we need to take action urgently.
“We have held discussions in good faith with local leaders for ten days in order to ensure that the measures put in place were tailored to the local community. ‘We have offered an extensive package of support for local people and businesses, proportionate to the approach we have taken in the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire and in addition to the wider national support.
“There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester Hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined. But, unfortunately, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control.
“I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday tomorrow then I must advise the prime minister that despite our best endeavours we’ve been unable to reach agreement. It’s not too late for local leaders to work with us to take action for the sake of the people of Greater Manchester.”
The statement follows a warning last week by Boris Johnson that the government would act to impose the stricter measures it they could not get an agreement with local leaders.
It came after the latest talks on Monday aimed at securing an agreed way forward broke up without a deal.
In a joint statement, Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said they still hoped for a “positive outcome”.
But at the same time they made clear their determination to hold out for a financial support package.
They said it was “surprising and disappointing” that an earlier offer of a hardship fund to top up furlough payments and support the self-employed had been taken “off the table” by health secretary Matt Hancock.
“This evening we have written to the prime minister reiterating our willingness to continue to work towards an agreement but reminding him that Greater Manchester has been in Tier 2 style restrictions for almost three months, and that this has taken a toll on people and businesses here,” they said.
“With this in mind, we do not believe it is in any way unreasonable for us to require better protection for our lowest-paid residents.”