As the new leader of Wirral Council, I wish my first message to you was written in better circumstances. However, I’m afraid we are living through extremely challenging and worrying times.
As you may be aware, Wirral and other parts of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people testing positive for coronavirus after a national computer error was corrected and updated numbers were published over the weekend.
As much as we have known the situation in our region was becoming more serious since the end of August, the new data shows that on average, 98 people are now testing positive for coronavirus every single day. At the beginning of August, this average was two people per day.
This is deeply concerning, and we simply cannot continue as we are.
Currently there are over 50 patients with COVID-19 in Arrowe Park Hospital, again this has climbed rapidly since August when the numbers were in single figures.
If we want to prevent many more people from becoming ill and dying from this terrible virus we must act now. We must change our behaviour now.
Last week further new restrictions were announced to try and stop the spread of coronavirus within our community. While I know there have been a lot of changes to the guidance and it feels confusing at times, I would urge you all to visit the Council website at wirral.gov.uk/covidguide to see what you can and can’t now do in Wirral.
In summary, it is now against the law to:
- host people you do not live with in your home or garden
- meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas
- socialise with people who you do not live with in any indoor settings, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas
Please note: Members of your support or childcare bubble are exempt from the above restrictions.
It is also advised that people should:
- not meet with people they do not live with, unless they’re in their support bubble, in any outdoor public venues. This includes outdoor areas of venues (such as a beer garden) and areas directly outside of settings or venues, such as the pavement or road and parks. This applies to inside and outside of the affected local areas
- not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances
- only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
- only take holidays within your household group or support bubble
- avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators
- hospitality venues (food and drink) will be restricted to table service only
- leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am
Information is also available on the website to clarify where we all stand on issues such as childcare, who can be in your support bubble, and car sharing to and from work.
As leader I am working with our LCR partners to ensure we are in a position to provide support to our businesses in the light of these new restrictions. An emergency fund of up to £40million has been announced as a direct response to the new government restrictions to support our hospitality and leisure sector as a stop-gap until financial support from central Government is secured.
Over 6,500 people in Wirral depend on jobs in the hospitality and leisure sectors and we will do all we can to protect them.
More support is and will be available soon for residents and businesses affected by COVID-19 and applications are now open for the Test & Trace Support Payment scheme.
I cannot emphasise enough how important the need to self-isolate is if you think you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. It really is the key to stopping the spread within our community and this new payment will help anyone who meets the eligibility criteria to access a new payment to enable you to do so.
You can read more information about eligibility, requirements and how to apply via www.wirral.gov.uk/covidpayment.
I would also ask you, if you haven’t already done so to download the NHS COVID-19 app for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. By downloading the App you are helping to identify contacts more quickly so that we can stop the spread in our community. To find out more, including about how people’s privacy and data is protected, visit https://covid19.nhs.uk/
I know it seems we are asking you to live in a way that feels extremely limited but unfortunately it is the only way we can halt this terrible virus in its tracks. We have done it before, and I know that we can do it again.
We, as a Council will do all we can to provide support to our residents and businesses but there is no magic fix to this situation, changing our behaviour is the only cure we have right now. So please, wash your hands, keep social distance, and wear a face covering when out in public. And above all be kind and considerate.
Thank you and best wishes,
Councillor Janette Williamson, Leader of Wirral Council