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Homepage / News / ‘Manchester is not Leicester but it could be if we don't take care this weekend'
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‘Manchester is not Leicester but it could be if we don’t take care this weekend’

Manchester’s Covid situation is currently ‘nothing like Leicester’, the town hall’s bosses have said – but they warn the same situation could easily happen here if people do not take care when pubs open over the coming days.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said the city’s licensing team will be monitoring bars as they reopen tomorrow and ‘we will be closing them down’ if they are found to be breaking social distancing and other protective rules.

“It is as simple as that,” he said at the authority’s latest executive meeting. 

“Because we’re not Leicester, we’re nothing like Leicester. But Leicester were nothing like that four weeks ago either. And that’s a real lesson to us all.”

Sir Richard also said a joint gold command operation would be in place over the weekend, including the council and Greater Manchester Police, and would crack down on any illegal outside gatherings.

“We believe there are three illegal raves being advertised at the moment,” he said. 

People arriving to a rave in Carrington last month

“Equipment will be seized, people will be charged, action will be taken around this. Not because we don’t want people to enjoy themselves, but because it puts people at risk.”

He was speaking a few days after the country’s first ‘local lockdown’ was introduced in Leicester, where infection rates have been running far beyond those elsewhere for some weeks.

Coun Bev Craig, executive member for health, said people had understandably then wanted to know whether Manchester was at risk from the same measures.

“This week the top question I’ve faced from residents, from colleagues, from friends, from families has definitely been ‘are we like Leicester?’” she told colleagues.

“And I suppose I want at this point to say very, very clearly: at this point in time, no, we’re not.

“But if we’re not careful and if we abandon the discipline that we’ve had around social distancing and adhering to the rules, like everywhere else in the country we run the risk of becoming like Leicester.”

Leicester has suffered a surge in coronavirus cases

This week the city’s public health department was finally able to see the results of tests carried out in privately run drive-through and mobile stations, meaning it has a clearer picture of Manchester’s situation.

Coun Craig said that showed an average of ten new cases a day, compared to around 450 a week in Leicester. Infections peaked here in early to mid-April, she said.

But there remained an ‘inherent risk’ to believing life was returning to normal, she warned, adding that people needed to make sure they were going about things ‘in the right way’.

That includes social distancing, hand washing and doing as instructed if the NHS test and trace system gets in touch to advise self isolation.

Manchester has also published its own ‘outbreak management plan’ this week, which focuses in particular on how vulnerable groups such as older people, the homeless and people in care homes will be supported in the coming weeks and months.

Sir Richard Leese

The city has its own dedicated test and trace system to deal with more complex cases such as those, which also feeds into a Greater Manchester version.

Regulations being published by the government today stipulate that pubs can reopen from 6am tomorrow.

Deputy council leader Nigel Murphy said he would have preferred to see a delay until Monday, ‘but we are where we are’.

Urging anyone planning to take advantage of the easing to behave responsibly, he said: “As well as thinking about how you’re getting there, think about you’re getting home.

“Stay safe and also have respect for everybody who’s working this weekend as well, because it’s going to take time to bed in.

“We need to work together to ensure we don’t end up in a situation with another spike in the Manchester area.”

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