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Letter from Leader of Wirral Council

Wednesday November 4

Dear Reader,

Tomorrow, Thursday November 5, England will again enter another period of lockdown, due to last four weeks until December 2 in the latest attempt to limit infection and tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. I know this will be a very difficult period for many of us here in Wirral, particularly after already being placed in Tier 3 restrictions during the last couple of weeks, but the Government and scientific advisors have concluded that this is the best way to protect the population.

The law to bring about the month-long lockdown was voted on today in Parliament and this legislation will require people to remain at home except under specific circumstances, such as to buy essentials like food and medicine, go to work or for education, and for outdoor exercise. Details of the Government announcement of the lockdown and the restrictions it brings in can be found here.

In particular I want to thank everyone – residents and businesses – for everything you have done and sacrificed over the last eight months to help get through the pandemic. Below I have provided some information about the support which is available to try to help you through the difficult weeks still to come and to ensure we can all get back on our feet quickly after December 2. If we can stick to these new lockdown rules we can bring down the number of Covid-19 infections in Wirral. Help us save Christmas and make it a holiday we can all enjoy with our families and loved ones.

Support is available for businesses who are being told to close, as well as those residents who are told to isolate, either because they have tested positive or have symptoms of Covid-19, or because they have been in contact with someone who does. You can find more information about obtaining help with welfare needs on the Council website here, and how people who have been advised by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate can obtain financial support if they meet the criteria at wirral.gov.uk/covidpayment. Further details on financial aid for businesses can be found here.

We are currently expecting confirmation on the new guidelines for those who are “Clinically Extremely Vulnerable” (CEV) - but shielding itself won’t be formally re-introduced in the same way as before.

Key advice now is for CEV people to stay at home as much as possible, still go outdoors for exercise – this is encouraged – but not to meet outdoors for exercise or otherwise with any people they don’t live with, other than one other household for people who live alone ( their bubble). They are still urged to attend NHS and Care appointments.

If you need help you can contact Wirral’s Coronavirus Helpline on 0151 666 5050 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or visit www.wirral.gov.uk/welfaresupport

The new lockdown will mean all Wirral leisure and sports centres, gyms, pools and outdoor facilities will temporarily close their doors again from close of play today, Wednesday November 4, although many other council services will continue. More details are available here, and this page will be regularly updated.

You may also have heard on the news that everyone living or working over in Liverpool will be offered COVID-19 testing from Thursday 5 November whether they have symptoms or not. These more advanced tests will help identify infectious individuals who are not displaying symptoms enabling far more positive cases to self-isolate and prevent the virus from spreading, in a first step towards rolling out mass testing more widely across the UK.

In addition, here in Wirral we are one of a small number of areas invited to participate in a pilot of new technologies to also detect asymptomatic cases. Current pilot proposals include their use in adult social care settings, education settings, and through local large employers, and more information will be made available about this as soon as possible.

At present Wirral continues to have a high number of Covid-19 cases, however there are early signs that numbers appear to be levelling out after two full weeks of Tier 3 restrictions. Wirral’s average is now 110 cases per day over the last seven days (up to 30 October) and the percentage of people testing positive has also fallen to 8.4%. This is much improved from earlier in October when the highest number of cases recorded in one day was 226 on 19 October.

This is a step in the right direction but our numbers remain high and there is still widespread community transmission and our NHS services are struggling, so I urge you to adhere to the lockdown and help us bring these numbers right down, to protect the NHS and most importantly to keep our friends and our families safe. Don’t let Covid cancel Christmas!

Thank you and stay safe,

Janette Williamson

Leader of Wirral Council