The Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region have written to the Prime Minister today (Tuesday 12 May) warning that the Government's change of coronavirus message comes "too early" for the North West, as the Independent Sage group of scientists, led by former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King, said that changes to the guidance announced were "dangerous" (opens new page) and that the country would "inevitably see a more rapid return of local epidemics and face the prospect of further partial or national lockdowns."

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram said they were "concerned about the substance of what was announced" on Sunday, and are calling on the Government to publish the 'R' reproduction rate at a regional and sub-regional level to enable authorities and people to make informed decisions based on local risk.

They write: "Here in the North West, we experienced the highest number of new cases last week and are not yet on the clear downward trajectory seen in other parts of the country. For that reason, we are concerned that the decision to relax the Stay at Home message may have come too early for the North West and could expose our residents to higher levels of risk of infection."

The mayors argue that publishing the 'R' number, denoting the rate of reproduction of the virus, at a regional and sub-regional level on a regular basis, will allow people and public authorities to "make informed decisions about the risk and help decide whether they wish to take a more cautious approach to the relaxation of the lockdown rules, given the risk locally."

They write: "By agreeing to this move, we could at least work to help our residents mitigate the risks they might face. It would also reduce the risks of regional or local lockdowns, which we both continue to oppose."

They also expressed their disappointment over the "lack of meaningful consultation and advance knowledge" of the changes announced on Sunday night, which have an "immediate and direct impact" on policing and public transport systems in city-regions such as Greater Manchester and Liverpool.

See the full text of the letter below:


Dear Prime Minister

PUBLICATION OF THE REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL REPRODUCTION RATE

Throughout the pandemic, we have sought to work in a constructive way with the Government, recognising the enormous and complex challenges you face. As a nation, we are in this together and it is important to maintain the spirit of national unity going forward.

With that in mind, we need to express our disappointment over the lack of meaningful consultation and advance knowledge of the changes that were announced on Sunday evening. Statements of that kind have an immediate and direct impact in city-regions like ours, particularly on policing and on transport systems, and we feel it is crucial that there is an ability to plan ahead for them.

But we are also concerned about the substance of what was announced. Here in the North West, we experienced the highest number of new cases last week and are not yet on the clear downward trajectory seen in other parts of the country. For that reason, we are concerned that the decision to relax the Stay at Home message may have come too early for the North West and could expose our residents to higher levels of risk of infection. Indeed, today’s Independent Sage Report warns that the changes to the guidance are ‘dangerous’ and that ‘further local COVID-19 epidemics are inevitable’.

We all now have a responsibility to build public confidence and empower people with clear information to make informed choices. Given that, and our concern about the heightened risk of spread in the North West, we are writing to ask you to make arrangements to publish as a matter of urgency an up-to-date reproduction ‘R’ number at a regional and sub-regional level on a daily or regular basis. We believe this is essential information which will help our residents make informed decisions about the risk and help decide whether they wish to take a more cautious approach to the relaxation of the lockdown rules, given the risk locally.

By agreeing to this move, we could at least work to help our residents mitigate the risks they might face. It would also reduce the risks of regional or local lockdowns, which we both continue to oppose.

Given the fast moving pace of the changes that are coming into effect, we ask you for an urgent response.

Yours sincerely

Andy Burnham
MAYOR OF GREATER MANCHESTER

Steve Rotheram
MAYOR OF LIVERPOOL CITY REGION


Article Published: 12/05/2020 17:18 PM