Burnham calls for urgent simplification of lockdown rules

People are becoming increasingly confused and frustrated by complex and contradictory lockdown rules, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has warned.

National and local rule changes are being introduced without sufficient alignment nor explanation of what they mean in different places. For instance, the “Rule of Six” does not apply in the same way in areas under local restrictions, where people are required not to mix in homes and gardens and advised not to mix in public venues, but this is not being made clear in national messaging.

The Mayor believes the proposal to introduce a new tier system could help to simplify and clarify the rules and secure greater public buy-in to them. But he called for local and regional leaders to be involved in the design of the new system.

Greater Manchester has been under local restrictions for eight weeks, which is having an impact on the economy, but very little additional support has been provided. Specifically, in Bolton, where pubs and restaurants have been forced to close, many people and businesses are struggling.

Andy Burnham said: “I don’t envy the Government as it tries to find a way through a very difficult situation. But we have arrived at a position where people living in areas under local restrictions are understandably confused about the rules. They are too complex and there has been too much chopping and changing. We urgently need to simplify and clarify them to build greater public understanding and buy-in ahead of the winter.

“There is also an increasing sense of unfairness about the way local restrictions are being applied. It cannot be right to close down people’s place of work without providing sufficient support for them or for the businesses affected. The current payments are extremely low and not enough to save businesses from closure. If the North faces a winter of restrictions without support, it is clear that our economy will be levelled down not levelled up.”