Liverpool leaders call for new COVID lockdown

Acting Liverpool Mayor Wendy Simon, cabinet colleague Paul Brant and director of public health Matt Ashton say action is needed to prevent a COVID-19 ‘catastrophe’ in the city. Tony McDonough reports

COVID, Liverpool, Church Street
COVID-19 cases are “escalating quickly” across Liverpool, says city leaders


Political and public health leaders in Liverpool are calling for a new national lockdown with COVID-19 cases “escalating quickly” across the city.

Over the Christmas period a number hospitals in London and the South East have gone into crisis mode. A new more transmissible variant of the virus is pushing hospital admissions beyond levels seen during the first wave in the spring.

However, there are now alarming signs that Liverpool city region is also head for a fresh COVID crisis. Cases in Liverpool have almost trebled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000. Now acting Mayor Wendy Simon, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Paul Brant and director of public health Matt Ashton say strict new measures are needed to prevent a “full blown catastrophe” in Merseyside.

Cllr Simon and Cllr Brant says the successful local-led approach deployed in its national mass testing pilot should be implemented across the UK as an emergency stop gap while the country waits for the vaccine to be rolled out.

In a joint statement, they said: “It is clear that the country is now at a crossroads with COVID-19. The roll-out of the vaccine has given us all hope that this nightmare will soon be over, but the truth is that long-awaited return to normality is some months away.

“The stark reality is that today this virulent new strain of the virus is very much on the rise and we need to act now to prevent a crisis that will unleash even more pain and anguish.”

Last week the city region was moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 which saw the closure of restaurants and a ban on people attending events such as football matches. However, the city leaders believe greater restrictions are needed if the region is to avoid the same trajectory as London.

They added: “2020 may have gone but COVID-19 has not – and we need to take heed from the lessons from last year. That starts with clear decisive action by our Government that leaves no room for interpretation and gives the public the clarity and the confidence to act responsibly.

Matt Ashton
Matt Ashton, director of public health in Liverpool


“We need the government to listen to those at the frontline, both in our hospitals and frontline services. We as a nation can cope with a lockdown. We have before and we can again. The quicker we move into one now, the more lives will be saved and the quicker a recovery will be.”

Matt Ashton said the seven-day rate of positive cases in Liverpool to December 28 is 241 per 100,000 but added the provisional rate to December 31 was 378 per 100,000. He tweeted: “Rate is now escalating quickly and catching up to other areas. Positivity rate is also increasing, approximately 10%. Urgent action required.”

Cllr Simon and Cllr Brant acknowledged the effect on businesses of another lockdown. Last week both Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Downtown in Business chief executive Frank McKenna called for more Government support for businesses.

The two councillors added: “Businesses want to see the end of COVID-19 – so they can begin to trade normally again and we can only protect the economy by keeping the virus under control. Before the vaccine takes hold, that means halting the virus as effectively as possible. A lockdown is the most effective tool at the Government’s disposal.”

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