Further restrictions will be introduced in Merseyside on Tuesday (22 September) after local leaders and Government agreed it was necessary to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the county.
In close discussions with local leaders, the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), and the Chief Medical Officer for England have agreed to introduce local measures in Merseyside and other areas of the North West after a significant rise in recorded cases in the area. Rates in Liverpool have increased to 106.4 per 100,000 in the past week.
In Merseyside, regulations will enforce the following restrictions from Tuesday 22 September:
– Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens;
– Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only; and
– Late night operating hours will be restricted, with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm to 5am
These changes apply across Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, St Helens and Sefton in Merseyside, as well as Halton and Warrington in Cheshire.
They are in addition to the ‘Rule of six’ which was introduced nationwide on Monday, limiting the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors to six.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden said: “The people of Merseyside have shown tremendous patience, solidarity and commitment in keeping coronavirus at bay, and keeping the spread of infection down since March.
“Unfortunately, the recent rise in cases shows that not everyone has been as vigilant, and it has become necessary to bring in these extra restrictions in order to curb the spread and keep the people of Merseyside safe.
“We understand and appreciate the sacrifices people have already made. Our officers and staff live and work in Merseyside, and know this has been a challenging time for everyone.
“But we all have a responsibility to keep doing what we can to protect our loved ones and ourselves. If we don’t, we risk more people in Merseyside catching this virus and the stark reality is we will see more deaths if people do not act responsibly.
“These restrictions do not represent a lockdown, but if we do not adhere to them we could see more severe restrictions brought in in future, which none of us want to see.
“As they have been since the start of the pandemic, our officers will be out engaging with the public, encouraging people to adhere to the new restrictions, explaining why it is so important and where necessary we will take enforcement action. If you do not follow the instructions of officers, you risk being given a £100 fine, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200 if it is not paid.
“For the sake of your health and the health of your loved ones, do the right thing and together we can beat this virus and return to normality as soon as possible.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Since Merseyside was identified last week as an ‘area of concern’, there has been a growing expectation that increased restrictions would be put in place for our region.
“We now know that these new restrictions will come in to force from Tuesday next week.
“With Covid-19 cases still increasing rapidly, we must do everything we can to curb rising infection rates and protect our families, communities and businesses. That means that these increased restrictions are now a regrettable but necessary step.
“I know that this will be difficult for us all, but we simply cannot afford to see the progress we have made over the last few months de-railed and for our communities and businesses to suffer more than they already have.
“Please be absolutely clear: We are already seeing hospital admissions increase, putting pressure on our NHS and we can’t allow this to reach the crisis levels we saw during national lockdown.
“We must all stop, think and do the right thing, or we will risk seeing infection rates spiral out of control, more tragic and avoidable deaths and a more drastic and damaging lockdown across our region.
“There is still time for us to stop this from happening.
“Our city region is renowned for being kind, friendly and community-spirited. We now need to stick to those principles, respect these new restrictions and make sure that we look out for one another.”