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Boris Johnson is under fire from local leaders over his new lockdown system amid speculation that Greater Manchester could be put in Tier 3.

The three-tier Covid-19 alert level system came into force across England this morning, with the Liverpool City Region as the only area in the Tier 3 – the highest risk level.

But ministers, councillors and medical experts are expected to hold a “gold command” meeting later today to discuss moving Lancashire and Greater Manchester up from Tier 2.

In a joint statement, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and leaders of nearby local authorities insisted the area should not be placed in Tier 3.

The leaders said proposals to move the region into Tier 3 were “fundamentally flawed” and “unacceptable”.

A news display features Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as shoppers make their way along the streets of Manchester (AFP via Getty Images)

They added: “We do not believe we should be put into Tier 3 for two reasons.

“First, the evidence does not currently support it. The rate of Covid infection in Greater Manchester is much lower, at 357.6 cases per 100,000, compared to Liverpool City Region which is in Tier 3 at 488.0 cases per 100,000.

“Plus our hospital admission rate is much lower than in LCR as deputy CMO Jonathan Van-Tam highlighted in his press conference this week.

“Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust seven-day rolling average Covid patients in beds is at around the 225 mark and in Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust it’s at the 100 mark.

“Second, the financial package accompanying Tier 3 is nowhere near sufficient to prevent severe hardship, widespread job losses and business failure.”

They highlighted comments from England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, that Tier 3 measures would only limit the spread if they included much more widespread business closures than just pubs.

The council leaders and Mr Burnham also said the Government has not put in place an economic package to support a wider local lockdown.

“We therefore reject the Government’s current drive to pile pressure on places to enter Tier 3. We take particular issue with the offer of local control of Test and Trace as an incentive to do so. This should be on offer to all local areas and is more likely to be effective in those areas in Tiers 1 and 2.

“If the Government pursues its current strategy, we believe it will leave large parts of the north of England trapped in Tier 3 for much of the winter, with all the damage that will do,” they said.

“If cases continue to rise as predicted, and the Government continues to refuse to provide the substantial economic support that Tier 3 areas will need, then a number of leaders in Greater Manchester believe a national circuit-break, with the required financial support, would be a preferable option.”

On the other hand, Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver was more accepting of the new measures.

He told BBC Breakfast: “With the high rates of infection in most parts of the county area it’s inevitable we’re going to move into Tier 3.

“It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy.”

The Conservative councillor said he did not feel the county was being “railroaded” into the measures.

He added: “It’s an inescapable fact and the very, very firm advice that we’re getting from our directors of public health is that closing the pubs and bars will not, in itself, get on top of the virus, so we will need to take other measures in addition to that and in order to do that effectively we need more resources.

“That’s the push that we’re making with Government at the moment.”