Greater Manchester escalates COVID response with significant partnership offer to Government

  • PCSOs and fire service staff to help with contact tracing
  • A Greater Manchester local self-isolation support unit to be set up
  • More targeted local enforcement
  • Support for the most vulnerable

THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and local leaders have written to the Government with a proposal to work in partnership to introduce Covid escalation measures for the whole city-region.

While the infection rate continues to increase, the aim is to avoid a blanket lockdown in Greater Manchester and bring an end to the piecemeal approach to deal with it.

The letter to the Government includes an offer from Greater Manchester to provide:

  • Contact tracing: Staff resource from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) through Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) will be mobilised to support contact tracing of uncontacted cases. Last week more than 2,000 contacts in Greater Manchester were not traced by the national system. The aim of this proposal is to get nearer to the 80% resolution target for the successful tracing of contacts.
  • Self-isolation support: The Greater Manchester Growth Company will be commissioned to develop a local self-isolation support unit to engage directly with employers to ensure adequate support is provided to their employees, following any referral from the local test and trace team. A limited fund will be established for those employees at risk of severe financial hardship arising from self-isolation due to employers being unable to support them.
  • Enforcement: All districts will establish joint enforcement teams with GMP, targeting higher risk premises and locations.
  • Shielding: Greater Manchester will develop local food support services to help those most vulnerable should the Shielding programme not be reintroduced. 

However, some of these measures will be time-limited without Government support.

In return, Government is asked to:

  • Prioritise the national testing capacity to those areas with the greatest number of cases. The system is not working for Greater Manchester and this is having a disproportionate effect on the most deprived communities.
  • In light of the above, provide additional resources (staffing and finance) and local control over test, track and isolate.
  • Support the Greater Manchester self-isolation proposal with additional funding and including financial support through business support grants and flexible furlough for those required to close.
  • Change legislation related to enforcement to support targeted activity at a local level, rather than blanket restrictions across the whole of the city-region.
  • Reintroduce the Shielding programme to support the most vulnerable residents.
  • Allocate realistic levels of funding and resources to enable local and time-limited interventions to be developed into longer term propositions.
  • Provide childcare support for parents, which is critical requirement given the increasing number of school outbreaks in Greater Manchester
  • Continue the Coronavirus Care Home Support Package for at least as long as Greater Manchester is experiencing high levels of transmission

The interventions focus on ‘living with the virus in circulation’ and aim to achieve the careful balance between the need to reduce infection rates and control the virus and protect the most vulnerable whilst also maintaining the ability of residents to work and study.

Andy Burnham said: “We can all see the infection rates in Greater Manchester continuing to rise and it is time to escalate our response. People here have worked hard all year but we have still challenged ourselves to see what more we can do. I’m grateful to our colleagues and police and fire services for stepping forward to help.

“I’ve written to the Government today with a significant partnership offer to work more closely to get through this. I want Greater Manchester to take more ownership of contact tracing and begin to provide meaningful support to help people self-isolate. We believe police and fire involvement will bring more rigour to contact tracing and reach communities we already know and mobilise support in a targeted way.

“I’m also making a call to Greater Manchester businesses to step forward and help their employees to self-isolate if asked to do so.

“I’m confident that by working together, we can make a real difference to people’s lives as we learn to live with Covid.”

Article Published: 16/09/2020 16:20 PM