Covid 19: More restrictions expected in Merseyside

Image source, Reuters/Phil Noble
Image caption,
Liverpool's infection rate has risen 13 fold in a month

Further restrictions are expected to be announced for Merseyside later after a spike in coronavirus cases.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said rules could be "even stricter" than in the North East as there were "serious concerns" about managing the virus.

He said financial support needed to follow any new restrictions.

Liverpool's weekly infection rate rose to 258 per 100,000 on 28 September. Knowsley has the second highest rate in the country at 262 in the same week.

St Helens had 212 per 100,000 and Halton had 206, while Burnley in Lancashire has the highest rate at 327 per 100,000.

Restrictions on households mixing, with a ban on people meeting in homes and gardens and pubs being told to shut early, were brought in across Merseyside earlier in September.

During that time, Liverpool's infection rate has risen 13 fold.

Mr Anderson said he thought this was due to an increase of people moving around the city, with schools and students returning and people going back to work.

He said: "There are more people in the city we didn't have before and they are now moving freely around the city...spreading human contact is spreading the disease and virus which is what it thrives on."

Possible new measures for Merseyside could include restricting pubs to only serving alcohol with food or making pubs and restaurants takeaway only.

The government is also considering whether people who had already been shielding should start to shield again, Mr Anderson said.

Image source, Reuters/Phil Noble
Image caption,
People in Merseyside were already advised only to use public transport for "essential purposes"

He told BBC Breakfast he had discussed the situation with Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night after infection rates were shown to be doubling every six or seven days.

If stricter measures are brought in, Mr Anderson said some kind of "local furlough" was needed because the area "relies very heavily" on the hospitality sector which would be "hit hard".

"I think we're gong to have to have [stricter measures] in order to arrest and supress the virus but we need that financial support too."


Peter Kinsella, who owns Spanish restaurant Lunya in Liverpool said a short term lockdown could be "catastrophic" without targeted support.

"Just as we were starting to recover our income will be taken away again. Expenses, costs, don't go away.

"We are a viable business here...we paid £8m in taxes over the last ten years. The government need us to be here long term to pay taxes to get us out of this."

A delegation of the region's MPs also met the Health Minister Helen Whately.

Sefton MP Bill Esterson said he asked her for "clear communication" on any measures brought in and financial support for businesses.

He said "trust is in short supply" and the government must "fix NHS test and trace fast" or the virus would "spiral even further out of control".

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