Ireland and Manchester in lockdown as Covid numbers surge

European infection figures soar as seasonal coronavirus effect kicks in

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British government put the city of Manchester in lockdown from Friday as Europe moved closer to second wave of shutdowns from Ireland to Italy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened to end a week-long stand-off with the northern English city and its elected representatives, to push the area into a Tier-3 alert that closes most social venues and advises people to work from home.

On Wednesday, it was announced that South Yorkshire would also be moved into Tier-3 and would come into force early on Saturday morning. It came after hospital admissions doubled in only 10 days

Projections by government scientists suggest that without action, intensive-care capacity in Greater Manchester hospitals would be overwhelmed by November 12, although this figure has been rejected by local officials.

Mr Johnson said he was trying to avoid a national lockdown by maintaining a system of local restrictions.

Dr Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, said the infection rate was climbing among the more vulnerable elderly population.

PM moves Greater Manchester to highest Covid-19 restrictions level

PM moves Greater Manchester to highest Covid-19 restrictions level

"This really shows us now that the infections which have seeded in the younger age groups are now penetrating those older age groups as we go forward in time," Dr Van-Tam said.

Ireland moves into second national lockdown from Thursday with non-essential stores, bars and restaurants forced to close for at least six weeks.

Travel will be restricted further, with people told to stay within 5 kilometres of their homes.

Italy's most populated region of Lombardy was given permission to impose a three-week night-time curfew.

Lombardy, the region at the heart of Europe's first outbreak and hit hardest by the pandemic that has already claimed more than 36,000 lives in Italy, is struggling to contain another surge.

Spain is also considering a curfew, including in the capital Madrid, and is set to become the first European country to pass one million cases on Wednesday.

Portugal has backed down from making a tracing app mandatory after a public outcry forced it to withdraw the plan, which was widely criticised as unworkable and unconstitutional.

Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham said local leaders had put forward a plan that would cost £90 million ($116.4m), before eventually reducing the demand to £65m.

But it was still too much for the government, which was only prepared to offer £60m.

Mr Burnham has been seeking more financial support for workers and businesses affected by the restrictions in his region of almost 3 million people.

He said the restrictions would affect the poorest and those in greatest need of financial help.

Tightening restrictions would increase homelessness, poverty and hardship in the region, Mr Burnham said.

“It cannot be right to close people’s place of work, to shut somebody’s business, without giving them proper support," he said.

He said he remained open to a deal and added that the way forward was not to make a policy that ground communities down.

"We are asking a lot of the public at this difficult time and we need to carry them with us, not crush their spirit," Mr Burnham said.

"We need national unity and that is why I now look to Parliament to intervene and make a judgment on a fair financial framework for tier-three lockdowns.

"Because make no mistake, this was not just about Greater Manchester. All parts of the country may find themselves in a Tier-3 lockdown at some point this winter."

Health minister Matt Hancock defended the government's move and said it was inline with packages for other cities in the region.

"Of course we do not want businesses in Greater Manchester to be disadvantaged, so that offer remains on the table.

"Our door is open to further discussions with local leaders in the coming days about business support."