Coronavirus: PM warns Manchester leaders he will intervene if they won’t agree to Tier 3

Greater Manchester residents will have Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions imposed on them even if local leaders do not agree, Boris Johnson has warned.

The prime minister said he was prepared to intervene to “protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester residents”.

He added the situation there is “grave” and “worsens with each passing day”, so action is needed to avoid more people going into intensive care and dying.

It comes as Lancashire prepares to go into Tier 3 – the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in England – from midnight tonight.

Manchester’s leaders have been resisting following suit until a stronger support package to protect workers and businesses is pledged by the government.

Talks have been going on for several days but no agreement has yet been reached, after acrimony broke out on Thursday.

In a plea to Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Mr Johnson told him to “reconsider and engage constructively” as “time is of the essence”.

The number of people in intensive care beds in the region is already 40% over what it was during the first peak in spring, the prime minister said.

“The national government must reserve the right to step in and do what is necessary,” he continued.

Mr Johnson also laid out plans to increase rapid testing to “help stop the virus’ vicious spread”, speaking at a Downing Street news conference.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson earlier branded the changes to the three-tier system unveiled on Monday by Mr Johnson an “inconsistent mess”.

Meanwhile, the R rate – the average number of people someone with coronavirus passes it on to – has risen slightly from between 1.2-1.5 to 1.3-1.5 this week.

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