As coronavirus cases spike across the continent, European governments are facing a new obstacle in their efforts to enforce restrictions — with several major cities and regions fighting back against instructions to lock down in recent days.
Cities in the UK, France, Spain are resisting centralized efforts to impose tighter regulations, with days of tense negotiations ongoing as infections increase.
In the northern English city of Manchester, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become engulfed in a row with local mayor Andy Burnham over whether to move the city from the UK’s second tier of restrictions to its most severe third tier.
“If an agreement cannot be reached, I will need to intervene in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester’s residents,” Johnson said on Friday, urging Burnham to “reconsider his position” and “engage constructively” with the government.
But Burnham has resisted the government’s efforts to increase the severity of his city’s measures, urging for more financial measures to protect the region’s workers placed under stricter rules.
The row escalated on Sunday as Michael Gove, a member of Johnson’s Cabinet, called on Burnham “to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in.”
“I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS … instead of press conferences and posturing what we need is action to save people’s lives,” Gove told Sky News, as negotiations between the two teams continued.
The tension is a far cry from the UK’s first coronavirus peak, when its four nations all essentially went into lockdown in unison, and adherence from regional authorities and the public was a given.
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