In the northern English city of Manchester, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become engulfed in a row with local mayor Andy Burnham over whether to move the city from the UK’s second tier of restrictions to its most severe third tier.
“If an agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents,” Johnson said on Friday, urging Burnham to “reconsider his position” and “engage constructively” with the government.
But Burnham has resisted the government’s efforts to increase the severity of his city’s measures, urging for more financial measures to protect the region’s workers placed under stricter rules.
The row escalated on Sunday as Michael Gove, a member of Johnson’s Cabinet, called on Burnham “to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in.”
“I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS … instead of press conferences and posturing what we need is action to save people’s lives,” Gove told Sky News, as negotiations between the two teams continued.
The tension is a far cry from the UK’s first coronavirus peak, when its four nations all essentially went into lockdown in unison, and adherence from regional authorities and the public was a given.
Instead, there is confusion in some parts of the country about what rules they are required to adhere to, with much depending on their local authority’s willingness to follow the government’s instructions.
In London, the mayor Sadiq Khan was calling for tougher rules for several days before Johnson announced them, while in Liverpool, Lancashire and other regions, deals were agreed with the government just before the weekend, with some councilors expressing misgivings about the order.
But even where local leaders are amenable to tougher rules, the public appears less so.
And a similar scenario is unfolding across Europe, as leaders grapple with the difficulties of pursuing a “whack-a-mole” approach to slowing the spread of Covid-19.
The court said the restrictions, which banned residents from leaving the capital and nine suburbs last Friday, interfered with “citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate.”
Spain’s left-wing national government and Madrid’s center-right regional administration have long been at loggerheads over the pandemic response, and the lockdown measures are the latest political battleground.
And in Germany, a slew of court orders are causing trouble for Angela Merkel’s government as she attempts to…