Steve October 11, 2020
covid-rules:-merseyside-to-face-strictest-new-lockdown-measures

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Merseyside is expected to be the only part of England to face the tightest restrictions under the new “three tier” system due to be revealed on Monday.

Some hospitality venues will be closed, apart from takeaway, a government source told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

And only one household – or “bubble” – is likely to be able to meet indoors.

But Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said on Sunday evening “no deal has been agreed”.

New local lockdown rules for England are due to be announced on Monday.

In Merseyside, alongside the closure of some hospitality venues travel will be limited into and out of the area for school, work, or transit only.

People from outside Merseyside will not be allowed to stay overnight, but it is expected that leisure facilities can stay open.

Liverpool recorded 600 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending 6 October. The average for England was 74.

The Liverpool City Region includes the local authority districts of Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, as well as Liverpool.

Under Tier 2 restrictions, people are likely to be discouraged to travel, and only one household or one bubble is expected to be allowed to meet indoors.

Tier 1 restrictions are expected to be similar to current national rules.

That would allow up to six people of any age from multiple households to meet indoors and outdoors, with pubs and restaurants closing at 22:00.

More clarity is expected on Monday, with new restrictions to be reviewed after a month.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said Monday’s announcement would mark “a distinct new phase in how the pandemic is managed in England”.

He said we will get the details of the three tiers but it will “take time” before it is known in which tier each of the different regions will be placed.

Whilst Liverpool will fall into the “highest alert level”, the debate was “continuing” and it was “not certain that it will be signed off and announced” by Monday.

Talks between the government and other regions are ongoing, he said, adding that leaders in the North East of England have a call booked in the morning.

media captionVideos on social media showed Saturday night street scenes in some cities, including an impromptu game of cricket

Mr Rotheram confirmed that “negotiations were ongoing”.

“Government have been clear from the start that they plan on placing the Liverpool City Region in Tier 3 and plan on announcing this tomorrow [Monday],” he wrote on Twitter.

“Whilst we have asked for the evidence to support the decision, none has been forthcoming.

“Throughout, we have been clear that new restrictions must come with the financial support to protect local jobs and businesses.

“No agreement has yet been reached on this point and negotiations are ongoing. As in all these things, the devil will be in the detail. A deal is not a deal until it is agreed.”

Mr Rotheram has previously warned the government “can’t do lockdown on the cheap” and called for a support package for the city region.

He said the government should pay 80% of workers’ wages – as was the case under the furlough scheme – if their employers are shut down, rather than the 67% to be paid under the expanded Job Support Scheme.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, he warned that the region would not accept a “lower rate” of financial support, especially when it had a “huge, disproportionate number working in the visitor economy – people who are on less than £9 an hour”.

Meanwhile, Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool (the city, as opposed to the region), tweeted: “We have not agreed anything, we have been told this is what government intends to do with ‘no buts’.”

It was thought Manchester may be included in Tier 3, but the BBC understands there have been no contacts between ministers and political leaders in Greater Manchester since Friday night.

Hard to judge impact on virus

The problem with introducing the sort of restrictions that are being suggested to control the spread of the virus is that no-one is really sure whether they will really work.

Firstly, while the government’s advisers can track patterns in where infected individuals have been prior to being diagnosed, they cannot prove that they were actually infected in those places.

Secondly, there will be unintended consequences.

Close venues and you may make the situation worse by driving people to mix more in private homes which are less “Covid-secure”.

It is a point that has been made in recent days by Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese as well as others as ministers weigh up their options.

Then there is the economic, social and emotional toll of closing down parts of a community.

These are decisions that will divide opinion and, what is more, it will be nigh on impossible to judge exactly what impact they will have had on the virus.

Greater Manchester Police have so far handed out more than 70 fines over the weekend for breaches of coronavirus laws, which included a gathering of up to 100 people.

On Saturday, officers broke up a party of up to 100 students at a property in south Manchester, issuing seven fines and a noise abatement order.

Police were called to a separate house party the same night, where up to 20 people attempted to flee from the back of the property, resulting in four fines being issued.

On Sunday, 12,872 people in the UK were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus – some 2,294 fewer than on Saturday.

There were a further 65 deaths – down from 81 on Saturday.

from the BBC

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