North West restrictions: 'epic clusterbotch' or eminently sensible?

Jo Francis
Monday, August 3, 2020

Print bosses in the North West are keeping a close eye on the latest measures aimed at curbing incidents of Covid-19 in the region.

New government messaging was launched over the weekend
New government messaging was launched over the weekend

At 9.15pm on Thursday evening (30 July) health secretary Matt Hancock announced that immediate action was required in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire “to keep people safe”, with people from different households no longer allowed to meet each other indoors.  

The fresh restrictions follow the measures taken in Leicester at the end of June following a spike in cases in the city.

The new edict applies to: the Greater Manchester area, Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Printing companies operating ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces are not affected by the new actions, but bosses  in the area understandably have concerns about the situation in general.  

Ronnie Blair, managing director at Jones & Brooks in Rochdale, said the business, which counts the NHS and local authorities among its customer base, had pulled out all the stops to keep trading throughout the pandemic.

“I’ve done everything that I can to keep everyone’s income going. But looking around where we are, I can see that people are having mass gatherings at pubs and queuing up at the chippy within touching distance,” he stated.

“I have had to be strict with some of the workforce and have had to remind people – we have put everything in place in the workplace, but what you do when you leave the workplace is equally as important.

“I’ve seen a couple of recessions and downturns but this takes the biscuit. Just when you think you’re out of it, it springs up again," Blair added. 

Grafenia is headquartered in Manchester and has its main production hub at Trafford Park. CEO Peter Gunning described the situation as “a whole new level of communication chaos from the government”.

“To announce such significant changes using Twitter, just before bedtime, which come into force in a few hours is crazy. Unclear, contradictory and even more confusing. It’s OK to go to parks but not gardens. Gyms but not bowling. Restaurants but not have a BBQ.”

He said it was “an epic clusterbotch”.

David Nestor, managing director of First4 Group near Blackburn, commented: “We have had extremely robust Covid-19 procedures in place from the outset and immediately adopted the local, soon to be national measures around the use of face coverings in indoor public / workplaces across the site.

“Personally, having recently returned to the office from the shielding programme, I feel any measures to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace are a positive thing.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson also announced that proposed relaxations that had been due to come into effect on 1 August, including piloting of larger crowds at sporting events and conferences, would be postponed for a fortnight.

This morning (3 August) Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted that the ‘R’ rate had gone up to 1.1 in the region.

The government also launched new #HandsFaceSpace messaging over the weekend.


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