Tier 2 move cautiously welcomed

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Mayor Joe Anderson has cautiously welcomed the Government’s decision to place Liverpool and the wider city region in tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday 2 December.

It becomes the first area in the country to have moved into and out of Tier 3.

The move follows a fall in the number of Covid 19 cases in the city, which currently stand at less than 150 cases per 100,000 population – down from a peak of 680 per 100,000 in mid-October.

The Mayor says the drop is down to a combination of people following the rules, getting tested and self-isolating when required to do so, as well as good contact tracing measures and Covid-safe measures in businesses.

Case numbers are currently half the 300 per 100,000 people that there were when Liverpool began its repeat testing programme for people without symptoms – known as community testing or SMART (Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing) – during the first weekend of November.

The pilot has seen around 35 walk-up testing centres across the city, as well as in secondary schools and at university sites, staffed by Ministry of Defence personnel, and around 200,000 people have been tested.

However, the Mayor warned that although the virus is in remission in the city there is no room for complacency. Residents are being urged to continue being tested regularly and, even if they are negative, follow all the ‘hands space face’ guidance, including: social distancing, wearing face coverings in shops and other enclosed spaces, washing hands regularly and not mixing households indoors.

The move into Tier 2 means that:

· Pubs and restaurants serving substantial food will be able to open up to 11pm (last orders at 10pm) – alcohol will only be served with a meal

· Outdoor and indoor performances/shows, spectator sports and business events can resume (up to 50% capacity or maximum of 2,000 outdoors/1,000 indoors)

· Spectator sport and business events can take place (up to 50% capacity or maximum of 2,000 outdoors/1,000 indoors)

· Indoor entertainment venues can open

· Up to six people can meet outdoors

· Personal care, including hairdressers and barbers, is allowed

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “If someone had told me six weeks ago Liverpool would be a Tier 2 city by the start of December, I’d have seen that as a great result, and it is down to the fantastic support we have received from our residents.

“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 embraced Tier 3 restrictions and worked fast to deliver the testing pilot, bringing in 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.

“However, this hard won battle to be a Tier 2 city is not the end. Covid-19 can bounce back, as it did so devastatingly after the summer holidays.

So while 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 so on – 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.”

Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton, said: “Thank you to all of those many, many thousands of residents who have found time in their day to go and get tested – it is very much appreciated. You have helped protect yourself, your loved ones, and the city, and have directly contributed to us getting to where we are today.

“But it is one thing driving the virus out of the city – and another altogether keeping it out. More than 700 people have died in our hospitals as a result of Covid this year, and each case leaves behind scores of devastated friends and relatives, and many others have been left with debilitating after-effects through Long Covid. We must never lose sight that this is a killer virus.

“So we are now on a mission to keep levels low in our city up to and beyond Christmas, through the cold winter months and in to spring – because the last thing any of us want is a return to a national lockdown, or local restrictions, in January or February. That means staying in the habit of getting tested regularly, using the walk up centres that we will be establishing when the pilot transitions into a more sustainable scheme.

“But a negative test result does not let you get on with your life with no other control measures – it is reduced risk, not no risk. So we still need to follow the rules around regular hand washing, social distancing and avoiding household mixing.

“The way Liverpool has responded so far tells me we can absolutely embrace the challenge. Protecting ourselves, our friends, families, loved ones, and the wider city now and in the year to come. Let’s keep doing what we are doing until we will be able to finally have something big to celebrate.”

More details can be found at www.liverpool.gov.uk/coronavirus