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Government ‘disingenuous’ to suggest local leaders behind lockdown plan – mayor

By PA News

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Local leaders were given “no choice” by the Government around the type of measures that would be imposed for the Liverpool City Region, its metro mayor said.

Steve Rotheram said it was “disingenuous” of the Government to suggest that Merseyside leaders were behind the decision to introduce tougher local coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs and bars in the Liverpool City Region will be required to close from Wednesday, when the area will be placed into the most serious Covid-19 local alert level.

The restrictions will also see wedding receptions banned, and the closure of gyms, sports facilities, betting shops and casinos.

Mr Rotheram told Channel 4 News on Monday the Government, rather than local leaders, were behind the decision to put the region in the “very high” alert category.

He said: “It was the Government that decided we needed local restrictions in our area and to place the Liverpool City Region into Tier 3.

“It wasn’t local leaders, it was the Government, and it’s disingenuous for them to indicate otherwise.”

He added: “There was no choice with the tier that we were going into and the restrictions that we were therefore placed under.”

His comments came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the Government had “agreed” with Mr Rotheram to introduce some of the measures.

Mr Johnson said the mayor was also at a Cobra meeting earlier in the day to “green light” the proposals.

Announcing the restrictions for the Liverpool City Region, the Government said about 40% of all coronavirus cases in England were in the north-west of the country.

Mr Rotheram said further financial support was now needed to help businesses and workers, particularly those in the hospitality industry.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

He told BBC News: “I’m afraid 67% of their (hospitality workers) wages doesn’t cut it.

“They can’t pay two-thirds of their gas or electricity, or when they go to a shop, they can’t say ‘can you cut that by a third’.

“We need the Government to work with us so we can provide a package of support that, one, secures the likelihood that our businesses can come out of this at the other end.

“Two, it ensures that people stay in jobs, and three, that our overall economy is not severely impacted post-pandemic by the measures taken by Government today.”

Under the expansion of the job support scheme, the Government will pay 67% of a worker’s salary, up to £2,100 per month, if a business is forced to close under local lockdown restrictions.

A close up of a pint of Guinness and a face mask on a table in the Richmond pub in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)
A close up of a pint of Guinness and a face mask on a table in the Richmond pub in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Rotheram said, while the severity of the new lockdown measures were “comparable” to the national restrictions in March, the support now being offered was not “anywhere near” what had been provided earlier in the year.

Mr Rotheram added: “If it was right then, it has to be right now.”

While pubs and bars will be required to close in the Liverpool City Region, the Government said they can remain open if they operate as a restaurant.

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