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MILLIONS of people could be banned from mixing indoors and outdoors under new Covid-19 rules to be announced on Monday, while the Tories have rejected pleas to increase wage support for laid-off workers.
Prime MInister Boris Johnson is due to reveal a new three-tier system of local restrictions, including the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants in the north of England.
Local and regional leaders across the north have criticised the government’s plans, which they say have been drawn up without consulting them. They have not ruled out legal action.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, a Labour politician, and Bolton Council Leader David Greenhalgh, a Tory, united with other northern leaders in urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to improve the new wage package that he announced last week.
They said that ministers should raise the 67 per cent wage subsidy to 80 per cent for staff in the north whose pubs and restaurants are about to be shut down, arguing that workers on the minimum wage would not be able to live on two-thirds of their normal pay.
Mr Burnham said: “The idea we [government] can’t afford it is frankly ridiculous.”
Mr Greenhalgh warned that he would oppose the new tiered local lockdown system if wage support was not increased.
He told ministers: “Please listen again – the north feels they are being treated differently.”
Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick brushed aside the demands to raise wages, saying: “We can’t do everything.”
On Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he also rejected allegations that there had been a lack of consultation with regional leaders.
The government has been drawing up proposals to give mayors more control over the failing test-and-trace system to try to secure the support of northern leaders, according to the Sunday Times.
Asked whether local mayors would be given more control over the outsourced system, Mr Jenrick said: “Yes, we want to work very closely with the local mayors and with the councils” because they “are very good at contact tracing.”
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that northern Labour MPs would look at how to ensure this happens.
In Bangor, north Wales, new coronavirus restrictions were introduced at 6pm on Saturday, barring people from entering or leaving the area without a “reasonable excuse” and only allowing meetings with people from other households if they take place outdoors.
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