Liverpool’s leaders are urging the UK Government to introduce a new national lockdown, to prevent the current Covid crisis developing into a full blown catastrophe.
Acting Mayor Councillor Wendy Simon and the city council’s cabinet say the speed of the rise in Covid cases, driven by the virulent new strain, have reached “alarming levels” and urgent action is now required to save the NHS and countless lives.
The city says the successful local-led approach deployed in its national mass testing pilot should be implemented across the country as an emergency stop gap whilst the country waits for the vaccine to be rolled out.
Liverpool’s call comes as public health data shows the new strain of Covid-19 transmits faster and has led overstretched hospitals in and around London to instigate disaster protocols.
Councillor Simon says a new national lockdown, coupled with mass testing, is the only way to slow the spread of the new strain of the virus and ensure the rest of the country does not follow the same trajectory as London.
Cases in Liverpool have almost trebled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000, despite the city successfully leading on the national pilot for community testing which led to it being the first city to be taken out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2.
The Acting Mayor and her Cabinet Member for Public Health, Councillor Paul Brant, say the government needs to take heed of medical and public health chiefs who fear the tier system is failing to contain the new strain of Covid-19.
Acting Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Wendy Simon and Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Paul Brant, 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.
“2020 may have gone but the Coronavirus 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.
“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.
“Yes, there will be pain for our retail and hospitality sectors, but they want long term security and a strong recovery and a lockdown provides both. An additional package of welfare and economic support will also be needed, especially to protect the most vulnerable.
“It is self-evident that the tier system has not curbed the virus – people moved from areas of tighter restrictions to lower as we saw in Liverpool before Christmas – and it is failing to contain this new strain.
“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.
“London’s rates are a huge cause for concern and we will soon see those rates here and across the rest of the country. But let’s not wait for the issue to escalate and unravel. Let’s get ahead of the curve and act now. We all know too well the dire consequences and costs if we don’t, particularly to the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Millions of Britons have made many sacrifices these past 10 months and none of us want to see those efforts go to waste. Much progress has been made to limit the virus, but we can only do so much as individuals. The country is currently facing a catastrophe that will undo much of what has been achieved if we do not act as one. “