“It’s extremely difficult to measure progress and hope during a pandemic.
Far too many lives have been lost and far too many livelihoods remain on a precipice.
But if someone had told me six weeks ago Liverpool would be the first Tier 3 city to be made a Tier 2 city by the start of December, I’d have called that a good result.
Back then, Covid-19 was spiralling out of control and our city’s hospitals were close to breaking point.
We needed to get a grip – and quickly.
That’s why we accepted Tier 3 restrictions and worked fast to deliver the mass testing pilot, calling for the army to help us deliver an efficient service.
Thanks to that twin-track approach, today those trends are in full reverse. We have the virus where we want it – limited, contained and falling.
Instead of 700 cases per 100,000, it’s now around 140. A third of the city has been tested in the past three weeks. Almost 800 people have been identified as positive and were removed from the transmission chain.
However, this hard won battle to be a Tier 2 city is not the end. Far from it.
Covid-19 can swiftly return, as we saw so devastatingly after the summer holidays.
So yes, I welcome the fact people can now meet in a group of six outside their home, can go for a meal, visit the cinema, shop, take up sport again and visit a loved one inside a care home safely.
These are precious liberties we have all missed.
Our economy has missed this activity too. Since mid-March £2bn has been taken out of our shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, theatres, museums and stadia.
But we must remain vigilant and ensure this tentative step back to semi-normality is sustained.
Not just for Christmas. But throughout 2021 until the vaccines deliver the promising results their trials have revealed.
Hands. Face. Space. Test.
We have shown in Liverpool that is the way to take back control of our lives.
Tier 2 is a fair recognition for following these rules.
I’d like to thank all those who did and those who so valiantly supported their efforts, especially the army, our universities, NHS and emergency services.
It’s been a privilege to witness such great teamwork and partnerships in action.
The best gift we can all give them and each other this Christmas is to keep up these good Covid inhibiting habits.
Our lives and livelihoods still depend upon them.“