Knowsley has seen cases rocket this month and is being placed back into partial lockdown like the rest of Merseyside and much of the North West
Merseyside’s local lockdown is a “wake-up call” for people in Knowsley, the local council leader has said.
Cllr Graham Morgan said the restrictions, announced on Friday, were “necessary” after an alarming rise in cases over the past two weeks.
He said: “I hope that this announcement serves as the big wake-up call which we all need to realise that Covid-19 still presents such a huge risk to us, our families, friends and community as a whole.
“Despite repeated messages around the steps which people need to take to prevent the virus spreading, infection rates here have been escalating in recent weeks and it has been quite startling to see the pace at which these numbers have increased.”
Cases in the borough increased ten-fold in the first two weeks of September, reaching 114.7 cases per 100,000 residents on Monday (September 14), one of the highest infection rates in Merseyside.
Knowsley Council had already responded to rising cases by banning care home visits and putting tighter restrictions on adults picking-up and dropping-off children at school from Wednesday (September 16).
Several schools in the borough have also seen cases, including Kirkby High School, Lord Derby Academy, Prescot School and All Saints Catholic High School, while Meadow Park School in Stockbridge Village has had to close entirely after an outbreak among staff.
Huyton’s branch of Lloyd’s Bank has also had to temporarily close after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19, and outbreaks have been reported at other businesses including Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Halewood and Matalan’s headquarters in Kirkby.
Cllr Morgan added: “Nobody wanted to see local restrictions come into force but we all have to realise that this is necessary if we want to stop the virus from continuing to spread so quickly.
“So, now it is vital that we all stop and think about our behaviour and follow the advice that has been given.
“It’s a really simple message – we all need to do the right thing and follow the new rules. That way we can get through this next phase and stop more people becoming ill and more people tragically dying.”
The new restrictions cover Merseyside, Halton, Warrington and most of Lancashire and will come into force on Tuesday (September 22).
From Tuesday, residents must not socialise with people outside their household or support bubble in their homes or gardens.
Hospitality businesses will be restricted to table service and will have to close between 10pm and 5am.
Residents are also advised to avoid using public transport for non-essential journeys and avoid attending amateur sporting events as spectators.
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Knowsley’s director of public health, Sarah McNulty, said: “We know from looking at some of the information coming through from our contact tracing, that household transmission and mixing of households is a key factor in the cases we are seeing.
« It is understandable that in people’s own homes social distancing is much less likely to happen and clearly from the infection rates we are seeing this is an important contributory factor in the spread of the virus here.
“I really hope these new measures will address this and other factors and help to slow the rate of increase. It is really important to remember that we are preparing to head into the winter months which always bring more health challenges.
« This year that is certainly a concern so I would urge everyone to do what they can now – follow the rules and commit to playing our part in stifling this virus in our area.”
Green group leader Cllr Kai Taylor added: « The decision to reimpose restrictions is incredibly disappointing, but I believe it to be necessary in tackling the virus and keeping our residents safe.
« We cannot, however, ignore the government’s handling of the coronavirus, which has been nothing short of a calamity. I’ve heard countless stories from my constituents who have been unable to get tested despite having coronavirus symptoms.
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