Are Tier 3 Covid restrictions set to be imposed on Lancashire?
The latest round of talks between Lancashire leaders and the government over the county’s likely move into Tier 3 Covid restrictions were “inconclusive”.
That is according to Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver who said that there was no agreement after negotiations on Wednesday and that he was seeking further discussions on Thursday.
However, reports emerged on Wednesday evening that the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s Gold Command had already signed off on a Tier 3 plan for the county, together with Greater Manchester.
Sky News said that a final decision could be made by Downing Street within 24 hours.
That raises the possibility of Tier 3 status being imposed on Lancashire before a deal has been done on a funding package to help temper the worst effects of the restrictions – which would see non-food pubs and bars close, possibly along with some non-essential services such as gyms and casinos.
Mixing between households would be banned in all indoor and most outdoor settings, with the exception of support bubbles.
Lancashire was placed into Tier 2 only on Wednesday - leading to a slight loosening of the rules of recent weeks. But as the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed last weekend, there has been a push from the government to get the county’s leaders to agree to at least some parts of Lancashire entering Tier 3.
However, council leaders have been holding out for a funding package that dwarfs the standard £12m on offer for an area the size of Lancashire to go into the most restrictive measures. The money would be used to expand local test and trace capacity and enforcement.
The county is additionally seeking local control of £50m of unspent business support grants – provided by the government earlier in the pandemic – to be distributed by district councils as they see fit in order to support businesses directly and indirectly affected by a tougher lockdown. As it stands, that money is set to be clawed back by the treasury.
Lancashire also wants £4m for every month spent under Tier 3 to support the care sector, £1.2m per month for the education sector, £2m for enforcement of the restrictions and £1m for a public information campaign.
County Cllr Driver said of the latest reports: “No decision was made today [Wednesday] and we’re looking for a further meeting tomorrow.”
The LDRS understands that another meeting with the government has now been scheduled for Thursday morning.
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