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Why tier 3 has been imposed on Greater Manchester

The government has officially imposed tier 3 coronavirus restrictions on Greater Manchester. The new rules will come into effect at 00:01 on Friday 23 October.

Here’s why the region has been moved to tier 3 and what this means for its residents and local businesses.

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What’s tier 3?

Tier 3 is the highest alert level in the government’s new Covid Alert Level system. The new system’s aim is to simplify local lockdown restrictions across the country.

Under this system, different parts of England are put into different tiers (medium, high and very high) with each having its own lockdown restrictions. Since tier 3 is the ‘very high’ alert level, it comes with the toughest restrictions.

Right now, only the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral) and Lancashire (Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley) are in tier 3.

Why has Greater Manchester been put in tier 3?

Coronavirus cases have been rising in most of the boroughs in Greater Manchester. The infection rate for the region is already high and is on an upward trend week on week.

The government says that it has had to impose tier 3 restrictions on Greater Manchester because at the current rate of infection, hospitals in the region are only a few weeks away from being completely overwhelmed.

This imposition actually comes after talks between local leaders and the national government aimed at reaching an agreement on the restrictions and a financial support package collapsed.

The region was requesting a £90 million package to support workers and local businesses that might be affected by tier 3 restrictions.

Local leaders eventually reduced their request, first to £75 million and then to £65 million. But the government was only prepared to offer £60 million, meaning that in the end, the dispute came down to just £5 million.

In announcing the placement of Greater Manchester into tier 3, Boris Johnson stated that the region would still receive £22 million in funding as part of a comprehensive support package.

This amount is separate from the £65 million that the region’s leaders were asking for. The £22 million is for expenses like local enforcement and test and trace.

It is not clear whether the £60 million offer from the government is still on the table.

What do tier 3 restrictions mean for residents and small businesses in Greater Manchester?

Under tier 3 restrictions:

  • You cannot meet socially with anyone outside your household indoors or outdoors in private or pub gardens.
  • People can meet in public spaces like the beach or parks, but the ‘rule of six’ applies.
  • People are advised work from home whenever possible and limit travel in or out of tier 3 areas.
  • All pubs and bars have to close unless they also serve meals.

More measures might come into effect after consultations between the national and the local government. These might include further closure of small businesses, as has been the case in Liverpool and Lancashire.

In Liverpool, for example, leisure centres, casinos, betting shops and gyms have already been closed (gyms will reopen on Friday). In Lancashire, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres, soft play areas, bookmakers and betting shops have shut.

Consequently, we can expect similar business closures in Greater Manchester once the region moves into tier 3.

Business that offer essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants, will most likely continue to be open.

How to prepare financially

We are all still trying to come to terms with the new tier 3 restrictions. So it’s understandable if you have worries about your finances either as an employee or a small business owner.

The best thing you can do right now is create a sound financial plan that can help you navigate these tough times. A few useful financial moves worth considering include:

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