The Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region have written to the Prime Minister today 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” 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.