New COVID restrictions for Liverpool city region

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Liverpool city region as local political leaders calls for urgent financial support. Tony McDonough reports

restaurant, bar, night out, drinks, cafe
People from different households will no longer be able to mix in bars and restaurants


New restrictions affecting Liverpool city region’s bars and restaurants will come into force from midnight on Friday in a bid to curb the rise in COVID-19 infections.

It will mean people will no longer be able mix or socialise with friends or family from other households in public indoor spaces such as bars and restaurants. Previously the ban on mixing with other households only covered private homes and gardens.

People will still be able to meet in outdoor public spaces such as parks as long as the number of those present does not exceed six. It covers the six city region local authority areas – Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.

There are fears the new rules, announced on Thursday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, will push a number of hospitality venues into permanent closure leading to large-scale job losses. Last week restrictions were introduced ordering all venues to close by 10pm with table service only available.

On Wednesday, in anticipation of the new control measures, senior business leaders in Liverpool wrote to Chancellor Rish Sunak warning many of the city’s bars, restaurants and hotels are facing oblivion due to COVID-19 restrictions.

READ MORE: Liverpool hospitality sector ‘facing catastrophe’

They are calling for an immediate and substantial Government intervention and claim if it is not forthcoming then Liverpool’s hospitality sector is heading for a “catastrophe” with a significant number of closures and job losses. The sector has already lost more than £1bn in revenues since the start of the epidemic in March.

Following Mr Hancock’s announcement, all of the city region’s political leaders, including Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, the six council leaders and its MP, put out a joint statement asking the Government to provide the scientific evidence underpinning the new rules.

It said: “As the elected leaders and MPs of the Liverpool City Region our first priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of the 1.6m 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 as 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.”

They also repeated the call for addition financial support for the city region. They fear the effect on the economy, and on many businesses, will be catastrophic. They added: “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.

“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.”

Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool Liverpool BID Company which represents 1,500 businesses in the city centre, added: “As we’ve seen numbers of infections increase in Liverpool, we understand that intervention is needed.

Bill Addy
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company


“It is especially frustrating because we’ve seen new reporting today on Liverpool’s resilience in the past two months and how our economy has been performing so strongly. Restrictions aren’t ideal for anyone, but the more we work together, the faster we’ll be able to focus on getting the city back to where it needs to be.

“There’s something to be said for each of us fulfilling our role. When we’re keeping ourselves safe, we’re keeping Liverpool safe.

“What’s your role if you’re a business? Make sure you’re following the guidelines yourself and keeping your venue COVID-safe. Make sure you’re telling your customers about that. What people need is clarity. On the whole, Liverpool businesses have adhered to the guidelines and are navigating a route through this crisis safely. Enforcement lies with the police and the Council, not front of house staff.

“If you’re a customer or visitor wear a mask when you need to, keep your hand sanitiser in your bag or coat pocket when you’re out. Respect the staff in every venue you’re in. They know, just as well as you, how confusing this can be but we are all in this together.

“For us at Liverpool BID Company our role is to lobby on behalf of businesses, across retail, commercial and hospitality in Liverpool. We’re working to keep the city centre safe. If you’re concerned, if you’ve got a question, tell us.”

And Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, also said: “We need to strike the right balance between health and the economy and it is a devastating blow that Liverpool will be placed into a tighter lockdown. We need to learn to live with this pandemic in the long term.

“Shutting down our hospitality sector will hurt some of our smallest businesses and greatest independents that are the lifeblood of this city and we cannot do this without a robust and immediate framework of support from the Government for the hospitality and events industry.”

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