Major incident declared in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester Police has revealed that a major incident has been declared by authorities in Greater Manchester following recent rises in coronavirus infection rates.

Taken to help agencies respond ‘as effectively as possible’ to the rise in cases, the decision has been labelled as ‘standard practice’ by Manchester City Council. The announcement comes days after the Greater Manchester region became one the areas subject to new lockdown measures, which, amongst other things, ban separate households from meeting each other at home.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which is made up of ten councils - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan - said the public should be ‘reassured’ that the guidelines remain unchanged and stated that the move will enable ‘public agencies to access any additional resources they need as quickly and efficiently as possible’.

Out of the top 20 worst affected local authority areas for coronavirus infections in England, Greater Manchester boroughs make up more than a third of the list with seven entries. Oldham, the second worst affected borough in the country, saw its seven-day rate jump from 41.6 to 62.8 per 100,000 people, with 148 new cases reported in the past week.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Although the council and partner organisations have been working closely to tackle the impacts of the pandemic since early this year, declaring a major incident means we can ramp this up further.

"Following last week's government announcement of preventative public health measures across Greater Manchester to address the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the public would expect us to give this situation our concerted collective attention. That, with a view to enabling these restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, is exactly what we are doing."

A spokesperson from Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “The public should be reassured that the guidelines announced by Government on Thursday remain unchanged. This move by Greater Manchester’s Strategic Coordination Group is simply to enable our public agencies to access any additional resources they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is no more than a boost to our capabilities at what is a challenging time for people in our city-region. It is absolutely appropriate for us to maximise our resources in the drive to reverse the spike in infection which we have witnessed in the last seven to 10 days.

“The more we stick to the new guidelines and drive the R rate down, the quicker they will be removed. Please do not visit someone else’s home or garden unless you have formed a support bubble. Do not meet outdoors in groups of more than six. Please wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible. Let’s not act selfishly and instead keep the health of our loved ones and neighbours in mind at all times.”