Students at Salford University have raised concerns about the implications of a tier three lockdown across Greater Manchester.
Fears are primarily related to being able to afford the cost of living away from home, without jobs, if much of the hospitality industry is forced to close.
Salford University’s Student Union, Atmosphere, has been a safe haven for students since reopening in September, providing a place of employment to many students.
It has also given customers a place to relax, without having to venture into the main city of Manchester. However this may soon come to an end as the spread of coronavirus continues to spike across Greater Manchester.
Ellie Black, 21, who works at Atmosphere, said:
“I think there’s a lot of frustration that the government haven’t told us where we stand sooner.
“We’re on edge as we don’t know if we should keep planning events or if we’re going to close and be furloughed again.
“My furlough money doesn’t cover my rent, so I don’t know how I’ll cope if that happens.
“Obviously at some point the risk overwhelms the benefits of staying open. For now we’re operating as safely as we can. All staff are working in bubbles of the same people so that we can limit the spread of the virus.”
The furlough scheme has been extended for 6 months, but will now only cover up to two thirds of employee wages.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has been discussing new restrictions for the region over the past ten days. He has been reluctant to agree to a tier-3 style lockdown, saying that it will harm the “lowest paid in society” such as bartenders and taxi drivers.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Burnham discussed the possibility of a two week lockdown, saying: “I personally think that staying in Tier 2 with the possibility of a national circuit break is the best way to go. The experts tell us that Tier 3 is not certain to bring the cases down, but a circuit breaker of that kind is certain to bring cases down.
“Because it’s shorter, it would create more benefits to health and less harm to the economy. So that is my position”.
Students at the university are unsure about the prospect of a second lockdown.
Nick Grazmeder, 21, said:
“I understand why pubs might need to close, but when social distancing measures are being followed, it’s difficult to see the problem.
“I’ve felt safe in every bar that I’ve been to, so it’ll be annoying if places have to shut”.
Salford Royal Hospital is predicted to reach full capacity with coronavirus patients in intensive care, if admittance continues at the current rate.
Boris Johnson warned that if an agreement can’t be reached with the leaders of Greater Manchester, he would be forced to “intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents.”
The Prime Minister will hold a press conference at 5pm today to give an update on what has been decided for the region.