Why has a major incident been declared?

The decision was announced three days after health secretary Matt Hancock imposed local lockdowns across the region.

Here, we take a look at what this means for the city and its local boroughs.

Local authorities declared a major incident in Greater Manchester on Sunday in a bid to tackle a rise in coronavirus infection rates.

Why has a ‘major incident’ been declared?

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the decision was taken to help local agencies respond “as effectively as possible” to the rising rates, enabling them to access additional resources as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which is made up of 10 councils – Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan – said the public should be “reassured” that the guidelines remain unchanged.

“This is no more than a boost to our capabilities… and maximise our resources in the drive to reverse the spike in infection which we have witnessed in the last seven to 10 days.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said that people “should not be alarmed” by the announcement of a major incident.

“This is standard practice for complex situations which require a multi-agency response,” he said.

“It allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources.”

So what are the new restrictions in place across Greater Manchester?

Millions of people across the region have been banned from cross-household gatherings in homes or private gardens.

This rule also extends to pubs and restaurants, although individual households will still be able to visit such venues.

GMP said the force “will engage with people, explain the current circumstances and encourage people to do the right thing in complying with the government guidelines”.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks down the street in Manchester as the city and surrounding areas face local restrictions amid a coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters)

“We will only take enforcement action as a last resort, when people are not listening and putting others at risk,” a GMP spokesperson added.

Greater Manchester leaders have meanwhile claimed they are not convinced that the new restrictions, which will be reviewed weekly, are “a proportionate measure”.

“We therefore call on the government to provide further evidence or amend the regulations,” a GMCA spokesperson said.

Which areas are affected?

The new rules apply to Greater Manchester and the local authority areas of Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

The same restrictions will be enforced across the City of Leicester just as it prepares to emerge from it extended lockdown.

What has the government said?

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.

“We’ve been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee. Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.

“The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight [Thursday], people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is neccessary [sic] to keep people safe.”

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