Mayor Andy Burnham tells Greater Manchester to prepare for a ‘year of COVID’

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has told the region to stick with social distancing by giving a strong message the virus has not gone away and the nation is still in lockdown.

Taking part in his weekly private press conference, Burnham advised against going wild this weekend even in small gatherings, despite the fact the reopening of the hospitality sector is only a week away.

“Lockdown is not over. People out and about think lockdown is over and it is not. We still need to be cautious and focus on what the Chief Medical Officer (Chris Whity) is saying. We are going to have to live with this virus for a long time and prepare for a year of COVID”.

Throughout the hour discussion the Labour Mayor was adamant the public should not ditch social distancing, yet had warm words of encouragement for young people and urged support for the Arts Industry.

“We are committed to supporting young people and we are showing that by setting up the young persons task force. Whether they are going to University or getting their first job, this is a very worrying time for them. We are therefore making early moves to show them our support. This includes the continuation of the Ourpass bus ticket for 16-18 year olds and also opportunities for 18 years and older to take advantage of the new chances we are creating”.

With regards to the performing Arts Industry that is set to receive no extra government funding, Burnham had a message of warning if the powers that be don’t give the sector the support they require.

“We need to level up and keep the light burning. Theatres are going to be one of the last industries to re-open due to closed spaces and lack of social distancing. If we don’t keep the light burning theatres could go dark for good. This is a worrying time for places such as the Trafford Centre or Bolton Octagon. This is such a challenging moment but we still need to retain safety first measures”.

After seeing the normal 9-5 weekly structure of life dismantled by coronavirus, Burnham was keen to see a shake up of the working week. This could include flexible working hours, more ability to work from home and rethinking our general.

For now however the safety first approach is all that matters.



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