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Boris Johnson has urged members of the public across the UK to abide by the strict local restrictions imposed in a bid to keep the spread of the coronavirus under control. The Labour Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, claimed the Prime Minister has been “slowly shifting the blame” for the resurgence of the virus on the people rather than reflecting on the Government’s own decisions. Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Burnham said: “I’m giving the benefit of some doubt to the Prime Minister because it’s a difficult situation that he’s in.
“And I think all ministers are in a difficult situation and things they say, perhaps in retrospect they wouldn’t always word it that way.
“However, if this is a sort of move to slowly shift the blame onto the public, in particular the northern public…they will have the fight of their lives on their hands.”
Mr Burnham continued: “They are the ones who lifted lockdown too early for the north, not us.
“They’re asking people to live under restrictions without support. It took us months to persuade them to give some financial support to people on low wages who couldn’t afford to self-isolate.
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“It’s not their fault if they can’t pay their bills or feed their kids. But that’s the position they were in for months all through the summer, people on zero-hour contracts or people who are self-employed.
“Don’t comb that one now, Prime Minister, that this is the fault of people out here.
“Everyone needs to look at themselves and what they’ve done in this crisis.”
The Government introduced new restrictions on household mixing indoors in the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesborough from Friday.
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It follows the return to local restrictions in County Durham, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland earlier last month.
New guidance was also issued in Marseyside, Warrington, Wolverhampton and Birmingham after new infections spiked over the past six weeks.
The Prime Minister two weeks ago urged anyone able to work from home to avoid going back to the office despite having previously called for workers to return to the workplace.
Mr Johnson insisted ensuring the infection rate is low is key to containing the spread of the virus across the country.
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He said: “The answer is that we have to get the R, the reproduction rate of the virus, below 1.
“The best way to get the R below 1 and I totally understand people feel things are inconsistent.
“If we can just follow that guidance then we can get the R down I ask people to stick with it if you possibly can.”
Recent estimates put the R rate, which calculates how many people someone with COVID-19 can infect, is between 1.3 and 1.6.
On Saturday, the Government confirmed over 12,000 new cases of coronavirus had been reported but insisted the sudden increase was the result of a glitch that affected the effective number of infections in previous days.
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