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Coronavirus Knowsley update

Knowsley Leader joins City Region in calls for urgent talks with Government

by Gemma Melling

The Leader of Knowsley Council, along with the City Region’s Mayors and Leaders, is calling on the Government to meet for urgent talks following the announcement of new restrictions for Merseyside.

Announced in Parliament this morning, from Saturday 3 October 2020, it will be prohibited to mix households or support bubbles in ANY indoor setting, including pubs and restaurants.

However, given the rate at which case numbers are increasing across all age groups in the City Region, there is concern locally that this may not be enough to sufficiently disrupt the spread of the virus.

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor (speaking on behalf of all Leaders and Mayor) said: “As the elected leaders of the Liverpool City Region our first priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of the 1.6 million people that we represent.

“It’s absolutely right that we do everything we can to stop the spread of Coronavirus and keep as many people safe as possible. Over the past few days, we have engaged in talks with minsters over their proposals for greater restrictions.

“The measures announced today are a step in the right direction but we need to understand whether they are enough to really address the escalating cases in our City Region.

“Therefore, we are requesting that the Government provide us with the scientific evidence so we can understand if these measures will be sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus.

“In addition, we are also aware that without appropriate financial support from the Government, restrictions will damage businesses and industries – in many cases irretrievably – when in normal times they are perfectly viable.

“Our City Region is an international destination – our visitor economy is worth almost £5bn to the City Region economy every year and employs over 50,000 people. Over recent years, our hospitality and retail industries have been vibrant and growing. But we have already seen some businesses go under in the face of COVID-19 and, without Government assistance over the past few months, many more would have followed.

“These new restrictions mean that we will also need an immediate substantial additional package of economic support from the Government urgently and, so far, it is not clear that this is being provided.

“We will now seek further urgent talks with the Government on these measures, any further measures, and what their response is to our request for a financial support package.”

Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council added: “Case numbers in Knowsley are rapidly increasing and I know from conversations with Ministers that they share our concerns about hospital capacity as we move forward.  They have also noted that the virus is now spreading amongst all age groups and that is a significant concern for us all.

“All this considered, I am not sure that the measures announced today will be sufficient to regain control of the virus and address the escalating cases in Knowsley and across our City Region.

“We have been clear all along that we will do whatever is needed to protect our residents, and that includes accepting that stronger rules may need to be enforced.  That is why we will be seeking urgent talks with the Government to understand the science behind the new restrictions and indeed to make the point once again in Westminster that we will also need financial support to ensure that the economic consequences of the pandemic do not destroy our regional economy.”