02/09/2020 09:22 BST

Andy Burnham Slams 'Completely Illogical' Easing Of Bolton and Trafford Coronavirus Restrictions

Greater Manchester mayor said people should still not have social gatherings in their homes.


Andy Burnham has said the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Bolton and Trafford was “completely illogical”.

The Labour mayor of Greater Manchester said people in Bolton and Trafford should “continue to follow the guidance” not to have social gatherings in their homes.

“We find ourselves at a completely unsustainable position this morning – that’s the politest way I can put it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday morning.

“Overnight we’ve had restrictions released in two boroughs where we’ve got a rising number of cases – in one case in the red zone.

“And neighbouring boroughs are still under restrictions but with much lower numbers of cases.

“These restrictions were always hard to explain to the public but they are completely illogical now.”

The government decided social gatherings between two homes can resume for the first time in weeks from Wednesday in the two boroughs as well as Stockport, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

But a sharp increase in the local infection rate in Bolton and Trafford led to council leaders pleading with the government for a delay just hours before restrictions were lifted.

The rate of new coronavirus cases in Bolton has jumped from 18.4 per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 22 to 59.1 in the seven days to August 29, with 170 new cases, making it the second worst in the country for infections rates after Pendle with 71.7 per 100,000 people.

Similarly, the rate in Trafford has also risen, from 19.4 to 35.4, with 84 new cases.

But the decision to lift restrictions was backed by Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, who told the Manchester Evening News last week that he found it “odd” for Trafford Council to object.

The MP for Altrincham and Sale West said he was left “unpersuaded” by the council for the need of an extension and asked for more data on hospital admissions and positive test rates.

Council leaders in Trafford had recommended that restrictions be maintained to wait for more evidence of a sustained downward trend in positive cases but were overruled by the government.