Merseyside leaders brand Covid-19 tier system a 'shambles' over inconsistencies

Credit: PA

Leaders across Liverpool City Region have branded the tier system of coronavirus regulations a "shambles", following the announcement that gyms in Lancashire can stay open under the strictest measures.

Gyms and leisure centres in Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Knowsley and Halton were ordered to close from Wednesday as the area was placed in Tier 3 and classed as "very high" risk.

Gym owner Nicholas Whitcombe was fined £1,000 when he refused to close Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, on Wednesday.

But Tier 3 measures for Lancashire announced on Friday do not include the closure of gyms.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool Region, Steve Rotheram said on Twitter: "The Tier system was meant to be offer simplicity and uniformity. Instead, we're seeing a two-tiered system of tiers emerge. How are gym users in our region more at risk than others? We were given no say in gym closures but this is just wrong.We're demanding answers."

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said on Twitter: "Liverpool City Region has demanded immediate clarification on why Lancashire gyms are allowed to stay open and Liverpool's close.

"Inconsistent mess, we now have Tier 3 A and Tier 3 B."

He ended his tweet with "#shambles".

Wirral Council leader Jan Williamson added on Twitter: "As Liverpool City Region leaders we (are) demanding the evidence from Government immediately as to why our gyms have had to shut and Lancashire can keep theirs open.

"We need fairness and consistency, what we have is a shambles."

St Helens leader David Baines said soft play centres in the Liverpool City Region have been allowed to remain open but in Lancashire they must close.

He said in a tweet: "Three tiers of restrictions was meant to clarify things but it's causing more confusion and anger at a local level than anything else.

"People everywhere need to know and understand what Tier 3 means."

A Government spokesman said: "Soft play and car boot sales, which remain open in Merseyside, are closed in Lancashire, whereas the opposite is the case for gyms. Arcades, betting shops and casinos are closed in both areas.

Intensive discussions with local leaders in both areas identified those which should close in each.

Government spokesperson

"We have been clear that additional interventions above the baseline for very high alert areas are subject to consultation with local authorities based on local evidence." 

The UK's largest gym chain, Pure Gym, said earlier this week it is considering legal action over the Government's decision to close gyms and fitness centres in the Liverpool area.