LEIGH MP James Grundy has welcomed the news that the Health Secretary will conduct "area by area" reviews into coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

A statement issued by the Department for Health confirmed that an area by area review of the Greater Manchester-wide lockdown measures will take place next week.

It read: “As part of ensuring a proportionate yet robust response to the virus, where possible, the government will remove individual areas from these measures while maintaining or even strengthening measures in others as necessary – just as has been done in other areas where local measures have been brought in, like Leicestershire.”

Leigh MP James Grundy has been pushing for a "more nuanced" system than the 'one size fits all' regional measures which were imposed on Greater Manchester last week.

He said that with the borough of Wigan having a relatively low rate of infection means it should be excluded from the regional restrictions which mean two households outside of 'social bubbles' cannot meet inside properties or gardens.

In the week ending August 1 there were 7.3 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Wigan, which is marginally higher than the week before but still the lowest in Greater Manchester.

A political row over the measures erupted during this week after Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham said it was "impossible" for an individual borough to be made exempt from the measures.

Tory MPs in the region, including Chris Green, Bolton West and Atherton MP, had supported a letter written by Mr Grundy which called for a change of approach on coronavirus restrictions.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Labour metro mayor Mr Burnham said: “I think it’s impossible to start breaking one borough off and separating boroughs out because Greater Manchester is an interconnected place.

He added: "Wigan is in close proximity to other boroughs where the number of positive cases is currently high".

Mr Burnham also accused Tory Greater Manchester MPs of trying to "politicise" the issue during the pandemic, describing a letter they issued to him as "beneath contempt". 

He added it was clear the MPs "disagree with your own Government" but "do not have the courage to say so" accusing them of trying to deflect blame and politicise the issue.

Leigh Journal:

Andy Burnham

However, Mr Grundy has today (Friday) welcomed the announcement that "individual areas" can be removed from restrictions.

The Conservative MP said: "As you know this week there has been a debate going on about the form the coronavirus measures should take across Greater Manchester.

"On one side we've had Andy Burnham wanting a 'one size fits all' set of measures for the whole of Greater Manchester. On the other side you've had myself and my Conservative colleagues across Greater Manchester arguing for a more nuanced approach area by area, borough by borough, town by town.

"Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) promised to review the measures this week and we have his response. Although the measures will remain in place for another week across the whole of Greater Manchester from next week a second review will take place where Matt Hancock has agreed to look at it on an area by area basis where in some areas may be lifted, in others where infections are high they could be tightened."

Mr Grundy added: "I think it's very important that we've achieved this objective, that the 'one size fits all' model is gone and from next week the evidence will determine what measures are put in place community by community and we'll perhaps see as long as the data supports it that Wigan and some other areas could be taken out.

"We're really grateful for all the support that's been shown during this past week for the stance we've taken on this and fingers crossed we'll be out of this this time next week. But I do ask you to remain vigilant and obey by the rules that are in place until such time they are lifted."