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Merseyside could enter local Covid lockdown - what would that mean for the region?
30 September 2020, 16:29
Merseyside could enter a local lockdown in the coming days as new coronavirus cases spike in the city. But what measures could be put in place?
It comes as the Mayor of Liverpool warned the city is "only a matter of days" from having a more severe lockdown imposed.
The areas has seen a spike in cases in recent weeks, with some local leaders calling for a two-week 'circuit breaker' to get the numbers back under control.
However, they have also warned that further restrictions could have severe economic impact of the region.
But what could a local lockdown look like in Merseyside?
What is the current infection rate?
Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton now all have infection rates over 200 per 100,000 people - up from only single and double figures just a few weeks ago.
Liverpool now has an infection rate of 270 - up from just 16 at the end of August. Similarly, infection rates in all other areas excluding the Wirral have increased tenfold in the past month.
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What are the rules now?
Currently, residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.
Liverpool council says: "The measures, for Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire, were introduced on Tuesday 22nd September 2020."
The restrictions currently in place are:
- Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
- Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
- Late night restriction of operating hours has been introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am
Residents in these areas are also advised to:
- Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
- Take holidays only within your own household or support bubble
- Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators
Gov.uk states: "In order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus you must not host people you do not live with in your home or garden, unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble or meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble."
People aged 18 or over can be fined £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days, £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400 if they break these rules.
What might happen?
Local leaders are now actively calling for stricter measures - or a 'circuit breaker' - to come into force to get a spike in new cases under control.
They want the ban on outside mixing to extended to also ban all mixing between household indoors in any setting.
Leaders have also backed calls for a total alcohol sales ban after 9pm - to stop pub-goers flocking to supermarkets and off-licences after the 10pm pub curfew.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said a short circuit-breaker lockdown, which could include shutting pubs and restaurants for two-weeks, could help restore 'some normality' in the run up to Christmas.
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How could it affect the region?
While arguing that new stricter measures are necessary for the Merseyside, the local leaders are warning of dire consequences for local economies without further Government support.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said council leaders "understand and support more measures" but businesses need help to survive.
The Mayor said: "Our visitor economy is worth £5bn a year to our region. 50,000 jobs depend on it."The sector can't take another lockdown without financial support from Government."
The night-time advisor for Manchester said the 10pm pub curfew will push socialising underground.
What have local leaders said?
A joint statement from Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram and the leaders of Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton councils said: “As Leaders of the Liverpool City Region, we all understand why further restrictions may be needed to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the communities we represent.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have always put the health of our residents first and we will continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of Coronavirus and keep as many people as possible safe.
“However, at the same time, we must be clear that any further restrictions will deal a hammer blow to our economy."
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has repeatedly called for tighter restrictions for several weeks, asking the Government to place the city in line with the North East.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, the Liverpool City Region Mayor told reporters that North West leaders have been ahead of the Government "at every stage" and hopes ministers will listen to their pleas for further measures.
"Hopefully from today, once again the government will listen to what we have to say, because it's so important to our areas - we're talking about 4.2 million people - I don't think they can be ignored much longer," he said.