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Letter from Leader of Wirral Council following Government decision to put borough into Tier 2

Dear reader,

The Government has announced that Wirral will be placed in Tier 2 following the lifting of lockdown next week. This is a vote of confidence in our region after a particularly tough autumn and I want to thank everyone, residents and businesses, who has made sacrifices to help us get to this point.

Tier 2 still carries a number of restrictions but this is really positive news which will see many more businesses able to re-open and boost our local economy in the run-up top Christmas. This could not have been done without the residents and businesses of Wirral working so hard, sticking to the rules and giving up so much in recent weeks. I can’t thank you all enough.

This change will come into effect from next week when the national lockdown ends on December 2. Being in Tier 2 means many more hospitality businesses in our borough can re-open and residents will be able to enjoy some additional freedoms. Full details are available on the Government website. I believe it shows it was the right, albeit incredibly difficult, decision to move the region into Tier 3 when we did. It meant we got a head start on tackling rising numbers of Covid-19 infections in the borough.

Before going any further I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone who has played their part in in recent weeks. By sticking to the lockdown rules you have helped reduce the chances of passing on the virus. Back at the start of the autumn we were facing a very perilous position. But the sacrifices we've all made have played a huge role in helping protect our local NHS and other care services from being overwhelmed. I know that residents and businesses alike have had a really tough time this year and further restrictions were the last thing any of us wanted. I would like to thank our local businesses who stepped up when needed. Those that were able to remain open and trading adapted and operated with a host of new safety measures in place, while other businesses have moved to delivery and click and collect to keep serving their communities.

I think it is worth putting the situation into context. Prior to the 24th August Wirral was seeing between 2-6 Covid-19 cases per day. On that particular day in August the number of infections jumped to 16 cases in a day. This was followed by further – and increasingly higher - spikes including on 4th September (average 35 cases per day), and on 15th September (average 64 cases per day). Our highest recorded cases in one day was 226 on 19th October. Just ahead of this Liverpool City Region agreed to be placed into Tier 3 in what was then the new system aimed at reducing infection - about three weeks before the Government introduced the national lockdown from November 5. Since that time Wirral has seen coronavirus infections fall dramatically. It has gone from a 7 day average on 12th October of 138 cases per day to 52 cases per day by 22nd November. This shows how rapidly the coronavirus was spreading through our community - and the benefit of decisive action.

The restrictions so far have been effective and we can now enjoy more freedoms, but in that spirit I would still urge everyone to not forget that the virus remains with us for the foreseeable future and we must carry on protecting our loved ones from infection.

I know many will now be making arrangements to spend time with family over the festive period. Lots of people will be buoyed by the good news about fewer restrictions and the imminent roll-out of a vaccine. But this won’t be a Christmas like those we are used to. Things haven’t gone back to normal yet because the virus is still spreading in our communities, and will continue to do so for the time being. This means we must not let our guard down. The Government has agreed with the other nations of the UK (Scotland, Ireland and Wales) a set of Christmas ‘rules’ to ensure a consistent approach for people to follow between 23 and 27 December. However, it is worth bearing in mind that just because this relaxation of the rules allows you to spend time with more of your loved ones, do consider whether this is the best decision for you and them.

Finally, thank you once again for everything you have done to help control and reduce local infections of this virus, and please remember it remains vital to observe the current lockdown restrictions until next week and then the Tier 2 rules, and to socially distance, wear face coverings as appropriate and wash hands regularly.

Best wishes & stay safe,

Cllr Janette Williamson

Leader of Wirral Council