Yorkshire leaders' fury as pub and restaurant closure plans under new coronavirus lockdown are leaked to media

Northern leaders have reacted furiously after government plans to impose harsh lockdown measures on large swathes of the region - including shutting pubs and restaurants - were leaked to the media without them being told.

By Rob Parsons
Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:42 am
Updated Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:46 am

Ministers were said to be considering the new measures, which could come as early as Monday, according to media reports, as infection rates continue to soar in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

But most political leaders in the North had not been told about the plans and heard about them for the first time when they were reported by The Times newspaper.

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It was reported that the new system of restrictions divides England into three tiers of escalating severity, with "Merseyside and other parts of northern England in the highest tier".

In these areas businesses such as pubs and restaurants will have to shut but schools, universities and other businesses will remain open.

The Yorkshire Post understands that northern and Midlands MPs were due to be briefed about the plans on Thursday morning (October 8) and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is facing calls to grant an urgent question on the matter.

Sheffield City Region metro mayor Dan Jarvis wrote on Twitter that it was "Recklessly irresponsible to brief the papers but not leaders in the North who’ll somehow have to make this work". He added: "Get a grip @BorisJohnson".

Leeds city council leader Judith Blake

Meanwhile his Greater Manchester counterpart Andy Burnham tweeted: "No discussion. No consultation. Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat." He added: "It is proving impossible to deal with this Government."

Leeds city council leader Judith Blake told The Yorkshire Post the Government's leak of the news to a London newspaper was "increasingly the way they pass information out".

She said there had been "no discussion with me or other leaders" and "no consideration of what will actually work".

Coun Blake said she did not know whether Leeds, which has seen its Covid rate rise from 170.3 per 100,000 to 341, with 2,883 new cases in the last seven days, would face the most severe restrictions or the next level down.

Labour’s Wigan MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the news was "a huge deal for businesses, jobs and families in the north of England". She said: "Leaking it to the Times is utterly disrespectful to millions of us who are already paying the price for the government’s inability to listen and learn from their mistakes.”

The move, if confirmed, would be another body blow for the hard-pressed hospitality industry in the regions already reeling from the imposition of the controversial 10pm curfew.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is finalising a package of financial support for the sector, the Financial Times reported, amid fears of a fresh wave of job losses.

Downing Street and the Department of Health and Social Care both declined to comment on the reports.

Tory backbenchers warned MPs must be given a vote before any such measures are brought into force in line with assurances given last week by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Hancock appeared to signal there would be dark days ahead for the sector during a conference call with the Confederation of British Industry on Wednesday.