Letter from… Manchester

By Chris Midgley, Account Director

It appears despite Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s insistence that the region must lift the lockdown at a slower pace than London, some Manchester residents disagree.

Local media picked up on social media posts showing hundreds of young people enjoying a street party in the city’s famous Ancoats neighbourhood, close to where the Newgate office is located. It was obvious from the video and images that none of these people were following social distancing guidelines. The police, the team from a local restaurant and residents spent hours clearing up the rubbish left behind.

Of course, I couldn’t write this without mentioning the biggest story of the bank holiday – Dominic Cummings. Will Wragg, Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in Stockport, has been the most vocal of critics from these parts with Andy Burnham strangely silent on the matter – particularly strange as he has been quick to criticise the actions of others lately. It has been extraordinary to watch Cummings be so robustly defended by the Prime Minister and then even more so for him to hold his own press conference. The real shame about pubs being closed (apart from the obvious) is that we can’t listen in to conversations about it all, but it appears the story has very much burst through the Westminster bubble.

But will Cummings’s behaviour impact how the general public act? I don’t think so. Before this story broke there seemed to be a general relaxing of social distancing, even away from illicit street parties. We still have long queues outside supermarkets and other shops, all properly spaced out with two metre gaps, but once inside stores people seem to forget the point of the queue. Our neighbours had friends over for a barbecue, other neighbours met with a group of friends for a bike ride and our local coffee shop has staff without masks or gloves.

We have seen more people wearing masks in shops, out walking and on public transport though which is gradually becoming more common – and may well become mandatory.

Everyone wants to get back to some sort of normality, and from my casual observation around Manchester some are very keen to rush back regardless of consequences.