Wirral has endured another week of huge disruption, as the borough prepares to go into a local lockdown.
Along with the rest of Merseyside, Wirral will face limits on household-mixing and curfews on pubs and restaurants from Tuesday, as the government tries to stem the tide of rising coronavirus infections.
In the last seven days of reliable figures, between September 8 and September 14, Wirral had 328 cases of the virus at a rate of 101 per 100,000 residents.
How have schools and pubs fared?
On Tuesday, The Hooton Arms joined a growing list of Wirral pubs hit by the virus in recent weeks after a staff member became infected.
The Blind Pig in Heswall was closed on Sunday and Monday after one of its customers tested positive for the virus and Andre’s Restaurant in West Kirby said it will close until September 21 after a waiter, who had taken time off last week, tested positive for Covid-19.
This comes after a nightmare period for pubs in the borough last week, when Sheridans in Wallasey became the fifth pub to shut down due to one or more Covid-19 cases within a week.
Several schools in Wirral have also been hit by coronavirus since their full return earlier this month.
Woodchurch High School, Co-op Academy Bebington, The Mosslands School, St Mary’s Catholic College, Lingham Primary School and St John’s Catholic Junior School have all been affected.
It is understood that infections have also been confirmed at Ridgeway High School, Brackenwood Infant School and Bidston Village Primary School.
How will the local lockdown affect Wirral's economy?
From Tuesday, Wirral will be subject to a stringent set of rules, along with other parts of the North West.
In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire (excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester), the following restrictions will be in force from Tuesday, September 22 :
- Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens;
- Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only; and
- Late night operating hours will be restricted, with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm to 5am.
Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
- Only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.
- Avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
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Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce said businesses will be hit hard by the new rules.
She added: “It is our hospitality sector that will be hit the hardest by these additional restrictions, a deep blow after enduring a longer lockdown than any other sector.”
“As a Chamber, we totally recognise the importance of putting public safety first and we are working in partnership with local authorities including Wirral Council to support this work alongside our business community.
“What needs to happen now is for the UK Government to step up and provide the further financial aid our businesses need and deserve.”
As well as hitting businesses hard, coronavirus has also plunged Wirral Council into a “massive financial black hole”.
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Cllr Williamson, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said the authority’s predicted £30m shortfall was caused by the pandemic and meant “everything that the council does is being reviewed” as part of a “massive reappraisal” of council services.
This even included services the council has a legal duty to provide such as adult social care. Cllr Williamson said legally protected services could “face reduction where an enhanced service is currently provided”.