UK’s Johnson threatens to force Manchester into Covid-19 lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned he will have no choice but to impose the toughest available pandemic restrictions on Manchester, northwest England, unless the city’s mayor backs down and agrees to new curbs.

Johnson’s government has been in an escalating stand-off with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who is refusing to allow his city to be put into lockdown despite figures showing the pandemic is spreading out of control.

Burnham has accused the government of failing to provide enough financial help for business that will be hit by virus restrictions, but Johnson urged him to reconsider and engage constructively with the government in London.

“The situation in Manchester is grave and worsens with each passing day,” Johnson told a televised press conference from his Downing Street offices. “If agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of its residents.”

The government’s own scientific advisers have said the government’s three-tier system of virus restrictions won’t be enough to control the virus and some of them have called publicly for a short “circuit breaker” national lockdown. Johnson disagreed. “If at all possible I want to avoid another national lockdown,” he said.

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