New COVID measures would be a ‘hammer blow’ for businesses

Mersey Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the six city region leaders accept stricter measures  may be inevitable as COVID-19 cases rise and are calling on the Government for extra support. Tony McDonough reports

COVID-19, coronavirus, virus, epidemic, pandemic, disease, infection
COVID-19, coronavirus, virus, epidemic, pandemic, disease, infection


Liverpool city region’s political leaders accept the likelihood of stricter measures to control the growth of COVID-19 – but warn of a “hammer blow” to the economy.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the leaders of the six local authorities – Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, Halton and St Helens – have issued a joint statement urging the Government to ensure any new measures come with extra financial support.

They released the latest data about the growth of COVID-19 infections across the six boroughs through September. At the start of the months the rate was just 15.7 cases per 100,000 people. By September 26 this had rocketed to 222 100,000.

In Liverpool, Knowsley and Halton, the figure is way above that. Knowsley is faring worst with 282 cases per 100,000. There are some signs the rate of growth may be slowing bit the situation remains critical. All the data can be seen in the table below:

COVID-19 table September 2020
COVID-19 table September 2020


In the statement, they say: “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.

“Our region is an international destination, and our visitor economy is worth almost £5bn to the city region economy every year, employing more than 50,000 people. Over recent years, our hospitality and retail industries have been vibrant and growing.

“But, in the last six months, we have already seen many of these businesses go under in the face of COVID-19 and, without Government assistance over the past few months, many more would have followed.

“While we protect lives, and our NHS, we must act now to protect the businesses that provide the livelihoods and jobs upon which our 1.6 million residents depend.

“And we must also act to protect the public services on which our communities depend. Our public services have been on the front line of COVID-19 response, but this comes at a huge cost. In the last six months alone, our local authorities and Combined Authority have incurred losses of over £350m in costs and lost income.

“We are already at breaking point. With new restrictions – and who knows for how long they might be needed – our economy and public services may collapse. If we do not act now, we will see a legacy of unemployment and ill-health that will cost lives for generations to come.

So, today, we are calling on the Government to work with us. If Government decide that new restrictions are required, they must also provide a comprehensive package of financial support for our economy and our public services.

“And to help us minimise the length of restrictions required, we must secure from the Government an immediate uplift in testing capacity, that matches testing resources to the high level of cases in our region.

“We are fully committed to working in partnership with national government, but we need the right support and resource to help us at a regional level. And we need it now.”

Signatories to the statement are Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Council; Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool: Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council; Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council; Cllr David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council; Cllr Janette Williamson, Leader of Wirral Council.

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