City demands Covid answers from Government

Liverpool is demanding urgent answers from government on the Covid-19 crisis.

The Mayor of Liverpool has co-signed two letters to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, seeking clarity on Tier 3 lockdown regulations and economic support.

The first letter is on behalf of all the major cities in England, which have been hit hardest by COVID-19, in terms of health, business and jobs.

Mayor Anderson, as well as the leaders of Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, is calling for a blanket approach to providing economic support for those cities in tier-3.

They have collectively propose six Minimum Standards for Tiered lockdown support packages to help ward off a spike in mass redundancies across the hospitality sector.

Liverpool has already created a £10m emergency stop gap measure to help leisure and retail businesses get through Christmas.

But these six standards seek long term support. They are:

  1. An improved and locally flexible Business Compensation Package for Tier Two and Three: to support hardest hit sectors, and allowing for local discretion to top up furlough payments.
  2. Commitment to funded, locally controlled Test and Trace: creating a system that is sensitive to local knowledge and needs of communities. This should include a joint planning response with local universities to provide effective support to students as part of containment plans.
  3. Minimum levels for furlough payments: furlough payments must not fall below the Minimum Wage, which will otherwise push increasing numbers of people into poverty and destitution, damaging our society and increasing future public service costs.
  4. A clear entrance and exit strategy to Tiered Lockdowns; based on local indicators such as local NHS capacity; impacts on jobs and business; and effects on poverty and deprivation.
  5. Enhanced and resourced local enforcement powers to ensure compliance: with additional powers to take immediate action on non-compliance, for example closing premises without moving through a staged process.
  6. Consistency and transparency of support packages. A measure agreed for any place must be available to all places in a given Tier. This should include: levels of financial support; enforcement powers; and any other measures to address the impact of Tiered Lockdowns.

Mayor Anderson said: “We cannot expect Tiered Lockdowns to be accepted without an end point in sight, and a clear plan to get there.

“This should include support to reopen and reactivate local economies as they move out of Lockdowns.

“Without this support, we will lose tens of thousands of jobs and Government’s Levelling Up agenda will be simply undeliverable.”

The second letter is a call for an urgent review of gym and leisure centre closures across the city region in wake of Lancashire’s gyms being allowed to stay open.

This letter is asking the Government to provide the scientific evidence to support the region’s gym and leisure centre being closed and if they are unable to do so, change the law so they can open again.

Under the legislation passed in Parliament the regions Tier 3 restrictions have to be reviewed in three weeks’ time. The Mayor and other leaders are asking if the closure cannot be justified that they are given the discretionary powers to determine that gyms can reopen.

Liverpool City Council has reopened its leisure centres but only for children’s activities and people with disabilities.

Mayor Anderson said: “At no stage did we ask for gyms and leisure centres to be closed. In fact we repeatedly questioned why this decision was made. Responses to our requests for the scientific basis for the closure of gyms have, to date, not been forthcoming.

“The Lancashire decision is totally perplexing. The Tier system was supposed to simplify the public’s understanding of restrictions to avoid the confusion of the local ‘lockdown’ patchwork quilt.

“We simply cannot accept our region being treated differently to other Tier 3 areas, without robust scientific evidence. These inconsistencies in restrictions between areas within the same tier risk undermining the new system from the beginning.