Leaders in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle have joined forces in an attempt to stop “counter-productive” local lockdowns – claiming they do not support the implementation of further economic restrictions in their cities.
The four northern regions are among some of the worst-hit in the country by coronavirus – with the government placing each under tighter measures in an attempt to control spiralling infection rates.
Manchester has had an ‘indoor ban‘ in place since July.
But as cases continue to rise, council leaders have called on the government to change their approach – arguing that “local lockdowns are not working”.
In a joint letter addressed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Leeds’ Judith Blake, Manchester’s Sir Richard Leese, Newcastle’s Nick Forbes and Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson also warned that they would not support any further “economic lockdowns.”
Instead, the council leaders are calling for a more robust, localised test and trace system – as well as additional powers to punish those who break rules.
“The existing restrictions are not working, confusing for the public and some, like the 10pm rule, are counter-productive,” the letter states.
“We want to be clear we do not support further economic lockdowns.”
The five-point plan proposed by the “extremely concerned” leaders includes:
- Local decision-making to agree additional lockdowns before they happen and additional powers to take immediate action on non-compliance, for example closing premises.
- A locally controlled Test and Trace system that is sensitive to local knowledge and needs of communities.
- An improved Business Compensation Package to support those most affected.
- Financial support for everyone who needs to self-isolate.
- Improved monitoring of the impacts of the additional restrictions that have recently been put in place to
understand their effect on COVID-19 rates
The latest figures show that the North West of England has suffered more than any other area of the UK since the pandemic began – with over 106,000 residents testing positive for COVID-19.
Manchester currently has the highest infection rate in the country – registering 561.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Rishi Sunak, who is under fire from the hospitality sector for persisting with the 10pm curfew, has said it is too early to determine the effectiveness of the local lockdowns and enhanced restrictions.
“You need to give things a little bit of time to see how they work,” the Chancellor told ITV.
“It’s too early to tell… we need to watch and see how the numbers evolve.”