Boris Johnson has urged Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to “reconsider and engage constructively” in talks to up the region’s alert level to tier 3.

Speaking at today’s press conference (16 October), the Prime Minister said he “completely understands” the reluctance of Burnham and his colleagues to take Manchester into the “very high” tier, but stressed that the infection rate situation was “grave and worsens with each passing day.”

Subsequently, Johnson warned that if an agreement cannot be reached, he will intervene directly “in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester residents.”

The update comes as it was confirmed neighbouring region Lancashire will be entering tier 3 at midnight tonight, but Manchester’s leaders have resisted increased restrictions until a more substantial support package can be offered to protect workers and businesses.

During the briefing, Johnson referred to the tougher measures as the “right and responsible” thing to do, and defended the government’s position on the premise that a further £465m has been provided for areas facing the “very high” alert level, as well as an additional £1bn in extra funding for local authorities across the country.

On the proposed additional Manchester restrictions, Johnson said the highest alert level was “far from a pain-free course of action, and it will mean a difficult time for the people of that great part of the country on top of the restriction’s they’ve already had to endure since the Summer.

“But I must stress, the situation in Greater Manchester is grave and it worsens with each passing day. Cases doubled in the last nine days, high infection rates are creeping up the age range, while cases are 690 per 100,000 for 16 to 29-year olds, they’ve now risen to 224 per 100,000 for the over 60s.”

“Some have argued that we should introduce a national lockdown instead of targeted local action,” he continued. “I disagree.

“Closing businesses in Cornwall, where transmission is low, will not cut transmission in Manchester.

“So, while I can’t rule anything out, if at all possible I want to avoid another national lockdown with the damaging economic and social effects that it would have.”