North West Mayors want to empower communities with weekly publication of R number, to encourage local decision making

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram joint press conference

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have held a joint press conference this morning to address the issue of the rising R levels in the North West.

The R rate refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to

The Mayor of Greater Manchester and Metro Mayor of Liverpool gave the joint message that they want to be part of the decision making process alongside the Government.

The Mayors have raised concerns about the R level being above 1 in the North West and say while people should follow the official guidance should err on the side of caution and stay home as much as possible.

"Staying at home is the best way we can protect ourselves, and each other, and get the R number in the North West back below 1. It is our view, expressed clearly at the time, that the loosening of the lockdown came too soon for the North West. It was done without proper consultation or forward planning."

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram

The Mayors are calling for the Government to empower communities in the North West with more localised, up-to-date information.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram say they will consult with the Council Leaders in the two city-regions, and Public Health England, on publishing regular local information for all of the 16 boroughs in the form a “heat map”

"The Government urgently needs to provide real-time data from both the national testing and contact tracing systems to local Directors of Public Health. We also call on them to commit to publishing regional R numbers for the whole country updated on at least a weekly basis." >

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram

In the joint press conference the Mayors called on the Government to revise its guidance on the reopening of schools and give express permission to headteachers, in consultation with councils, to decide when it is right to re-open schools to a wider number of students.

They also stated that a series of further urgent steps are required to improve the effectiveness of the Test and Trace system in the North West to ensure that people who take time off work are not left out of pocket.

"Some people who are asked to self-isolate would not be paid if they followed the advice. Those on zero-hours contracts could be at risk of losing their job. We call on all employers in the North West, particularly those who have been in receipt of public support, to allow any employee who can demonstrate that they are in receipt of a genuine request from the Test and Trace system to be allowed to self-isolate on full pay.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram

Both Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram are calling for the Government to include a North West representative on the COBRA meetings so there can be a voice to represent the communities for the big decisions like easing lockdown.