GREATER Manchester has launched legal proceedings to challenge any impending Government restrictions on hospitality and entertainment venues across the north of England.
Different parts of England will be split up into “medium”, “high”, or “very high” local Covid alert areas under a new three tier system Boris Johnson is expected to announce later today.
The classification of areas will determine what type of “appropriate interventions” are to be made in them to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The move comes after the Prime Minister held a telephone conference with Cabinet colleagues on Sunday to discuss the situation.
Downing Street said the Government is working with local leaders to determine the areas to be covered by the very high alert level, and the measures needed in those places.
Mr Johnson will chair a top level COBRA committee meeting Monday on the issue “to determine the final interventions” he will then announce to Parliament.
MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the measures later this week.
The Prime Minister will also hold a press conference in Downing Street with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty on Monday.
However, some Northern leaders made it clear they are unhappy with the situation.
Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser to the Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, has started legal proceedings to challenge any impending Government restrictions on hospitality and entertainment venues across the north of England.
He said: “There is currently no tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of the hospitality and entertainment sectors.
“Our discussions and ongoing calls for evidence have been ignored and we have therefore been left with little choice but to escalate the matter further.
“Supported by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, we have now engaged lawyers to begin a Judicial Review into the legality of the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the hospitality and entertainment sectors.”
Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Liverpool city region, said in a statement: “Since Friday, myself, and the leaders of our local councils have been in dialogue with the government.
“Government have been clear from the start that they plan on placing the Liverpool City Region in tier 3 and plan on announcing this tomorrow.
“Whilst we have asked for the evidence to support that decision, none has been forthcoming.
“Throughout, we have been clear that new restrictions must come with the financial support to protect local jobs and businesses.
“No agreement has yet been reached on this point and negotiations are ongoing. As in all these things, the devil will be in the detail. A deal is not a deal until it is agreed.”
Before the statement was released, Number 10 said that the Prime Minister spoke to Mr Rotheram on Sunday.
Downing Street said: “They discussed the huge challenge from rising numbers of Covid cases in the region and pledged to work together on combatting the virus.”
The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson tweeted: “We have not agreed anything, we have been told this is what Government intends to do with ‘no buts’.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Our primary focus has always been to protect lives and livelihoods while controlling the spread of the virus and these measures will help achieve that aim.
“We must do everything we can to protect the NHS and make sure it can continue to deliver the essential services that so many people rely on.”
“This is a critical juncture and it is absolutely vital that everyone follows the clear guidance we have set out to help contain the virus.”
Number 10 stressed the extent of discussions with local leaders over the weekend following criticism from some Northern authorities and mayors that not enough consultation had been taking place since the Covid crisis began.
Downing Street said that senior Number 10 advisers and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick held discussions local authority chiefs and mayors from “the highest areas of concern”.
The spokesperson said: “Government representatives thanked the significant contribution of local leaders in the response to the virus, and reiterated the importance of their roles in helping to shape the package of measures for areas with high prevalence as the country continues to work together to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.”
“Discussions were held on how Government and local authorities could also work together to mobilise communities, volunteers and the public sector to help increase the effectiveness of NHS Test and Trace.”
Number 10 said there would also be a “public data briefing” in Downing Street Monday morning with deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam and representatives from the NHS.